Taco bell bean burritos are not healthy; iPads and Poptropica are not educational

  I know this blog might upset some of my readers, or make them think I am being judgemental. But I am not trying to be! This is meant only as self reflection, and as a springboard for discussion! Also, please try not to judge me!
 This weekend I am home alone with the children for a while while Christopher is off being famous at Paganicon. At the same time, I am caring for a friends’ child for a few days. She (let’s call her Wendy) is an intelligent and articulate 9 year old.
  Yesterday, three things happened that all got me thinking. It started in the morning. We had a very busy day ahead; homeschool art classes, a meeting with our lobbyist, shopping, and errands. As I was rushing around getting everyone clean and ready, Wendy asks for a computer turn. I open the laptop and set the timer for 30 minutes, letting her and the other middle school age children play Poptropica while I feed and clean the baby. When the timer goes off, I ask them to turn it off and get ready too. “Ahhh”, they say, ” But it’s Poptropica! It’s educational. I learn so much!” “No it’s not!” I fume. Anyway, time to go.
  As we are driving to art class I become lost. The drive lasts an unexpected hour. On the edge of town we drive past Taco Bell. ” Mom, pppllllleeeeaaassssse can we have bean burritos? Please?” I tell them no, we’ve just had lunch and you only think your hungry because you’re bored. “They’re healthy!” they exclaim. I don’t respond. We stop at Taco Bell maybe once a month for 69 cent bean burritos, usually when we are running errands in town and I have forgotten to pack lunches. And because they are vegetarian (?), cheap, and right by art class. There is a McDonald’s across from Taco Bell. Wendy chimes in that she likes snack wraps. And they are healthy. Now I argue, no way. What are they? Wheat tortilla, meat, lettuce. I ask how she knows it’s a “wheat” tortilla. Well, the tortilla has brown speckles. I am about to argue when my 10 year old compares it to the bean burritos tortilla. Hmmmm.
  We make it to class without snacks. It’s a great quilling class (more tomorrow…) that lasts 2 hours. (No one is hungry, by the way.)
  Then it is time to meet with our homeschool lobbyist. What a fantastic woman! We discuss the obnoxious changes our homeschool assistance program has suffered this year. Instead of field trips, curriculum and science classes, some students (meaning not mine) got to borrow NEW iPads! Fancy schmancy! But NOT educational I exclaim!
  WHOAAAA!!! the moms cry out. These iPads ARE super educational.

Are you fracking kidding me?

  These are women I respect. Don’t tell me they believe these are good for kids. One mom says “My daughter goes in her room and plays educational spelling games.” No she doesn’t. She logs onto her secret facebook account. Duh! Another mom tells me that computer skills are necessary for today’s modern world. I agree in principle, but you need to supervise all computer use in your home. And computers are NOT difficult to use. I recently attended a conference with Eugene Schwartz, who says using a computer is about as difficult as using a microwave. My 18 month old can turn on a computer and control a mouse. Macintosh works diligently to make it so!  All an iPad is is a fancy toy that your pre-teen plays with in her room and gives you a chance to clean the kitchen in a quiet atmosphere.

 You and I KNOW that iPads, Poptropica, and Taco Bell are NOT healthy for our children. We could say ” Well, I need a break, so I will let you play this computer game so I can take a shower. It’s not good for you, but it’s ok in moderation.” But we don’t. We say otherwise because telling them the truth would mean telling them that we let them do unhealthy things! Ouch! What a disservice we do our children! How will they learn to make healthy choices if we can’t be honest with them?

  We MUST teach our children what is healthy! Fresh air, water, vegetables, watercolor paints, books, mothers, outdoor adventures……

  Here‘s a study about screen time that finds that children who spend longer than two hours in front of a computer or television screen are more likely to suffer psychological difficulties, regardless of how physically active they are. And the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees.

 And Wendy, if you’re reading this, a Taco bell bean burrito and a McDonald’s snack wrap are equally UN-healthy.

Author: thewitchmama

Melanie Elizabeth Hexen is a midwife, regionally famous bellydancer, homeschooling mother and matriarch of the Many Hands House. She has been a witch for 25 years, and her belief system is currently based on the writings of Terry Pratchett and the teachings of Steven Posch. With her coven, the Prärie Hexen, she is creating the Hexen Tradition of Witchcraft.

14 thoughts on “Taco bell bean burritos are not healthy; iPads and Poptropica are not educational”

  1. a-freakin-men!!! Can we please add leapsters, “educational” DVDs and whatnot to this??? NO, they're not learning to spell. They're learning that 'I've PLAYED this ten times already, and I know that to get to the next screen I need to choose the 'a' and put it in the missing spot' .not.spelling. .game. *sigh*


  2. Oh…and zachs been 'grounded' from TV for… 4 days now? Not directly punnishment, just got SICK of the constant “can I watch a show now?” Its been nice for all of us. And I do tell him things are unhealthy (and that mommy shouldn't drink soda *ahem*) bit its oknfor us to have treats, as long as we've been putting good foods in our body. I try reeeeally hard to make it clear the difference because…well…I live with Eddie. 😉 (I am surprised how much advertising he picks up! “But its healthy, they said so”)


  3. I agree with you…my kids do not watch TV Sunday afternoon thru Friday day…We do family movie night…no internet…they ask…and if I am desperate for a moment…i have said yes…only to pbs.kids.org…but no more…but I have said no to that lately…Fridays and Saturdays we allow TV..but movies…family movie night…a film we can discuss..even if it is diary for a wimpy kid or Harry Potter….I do allow a Leapster for 20ish minutes before bed….not b/c I think they are great, but..I read the kids book or three and then I have to study..and..they help me get them settled..I am selfish…I also like leapsters on car rides over an hour…fast food…has been a challenge..the toys..and my weakness and utter dispair as a women going for a career has led me to failure as a parent with the nutrition in the past..but we are over that…and we are on a five fruit/veggie/day program…we get the goal about three days/week…with a vegetarian night once/week…I get you Melanie…no matter how u parent…Rob and I are so weak to give in to what is easy…and have to discipline ourselves for what is right…oh gosh…I am up so late..I am sure I will fuck up tomorrow…lol


  4. “Another mom tells me that computer skills are necessary for today's modern world…”

    As someone who uses a PC everyday for her job, I fail to see how using an iPad is going to teach kids the computer skills I needed to learn to get said job, and the job before that, and well, you get the idea.


  5. Excellent essay and your points are a good reminder of my responsibilities. And that I have been LAZY in many respects.

    I think the TV is going to “break”. This will be an unpopular situation for daddy (he doesn't watch, he uses it as babysitter) as well as kid but I think it's necessary… it's on way too much.


  6. oooh this was brilliant. I get 20 applications a week from this generation of IPADERS and high tech phone kiddies. They can't spell and can't write. Sure they can text 1000 wpm but that's not the same as the written word which you might have to do at a “real job”. This “modern technology” has also stolen common sense and the people skills needed to have a “real job”.
    This is not helping our kids at all. I feel sorry even for the homeschooled kids who rely on the homeschool assistance program. This is the only time I am glad my kids are grown because they went through the program with someone who saw to it BOOKS were available.
    Don't even get me started on taco bell.


  7. The iPads are making me mad. I have had more fights with my kids about the stupid things The “educational” games that are loaded on it are ridiculous. WAAAAAY too easy for A. And what do they like about it? Angry Birds. How they heard about whatever that it is, I have no idea. I am so close to packing it up and shipping it back to where it came from. It will be short lived at our house, for sure. Educational my ass.


  8. Melanie, this was FANTASTIC!!!! I loved it, and appreciate you putting yourself out there – Huzzah! I live by the phrase, “It is what it is”. And I feel the majority of our society is making lots of money off these types of medias, which muddies the line between career training and learning! Critical thinking skills are being replaced by computer skills.
    I teaching writing composition classes online and there are a lot of students with “skills” but limited thinking.


  9. Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses! I want to again stress that I didn't mean for this to be judgmental, in fact, it was more personally reflective! I know many of you, and I think you are great parents.


  10. Great post, Melanie!

    After my experience at an inspiring Waldorf Simplicity Parenting conference last weekend, I couldn't be more on board.

    “Boredom” is another word for “not using your imagination.” As for “healthy”…my kids know that if it prepared food it's a no-go, except on rare occasions; like Girl Scout cookie time or road trip fast food.

    I'm doing a series on simplicity parenting extracted from last week's conference on my blog. Today's topic is clutter and food, tomorrow will be screen stuff. Let's talk more!



  11. This made me chuckle; I was floored when I first heard about the iPads being offered through HSAP. Rather than make me frantic to enroll my first grader this fall, it really turned me off.

    Not gonna lie, my husband would be thrilled if I brought one home, but who are we kidding? It's kind of like deciding to give our six year old a BlackBerry or iPhone. Are children really capable of handling technology at that age? Should they be?

    Besides, I would be quite fearful that we would smear some pseudo-healthy Taco Bell burrito on it at some point during the year.


  12. Say it loud and clear, sister! When I walk into the computer class at the school where I work, I see kids playing around and surfing the web. When students ask for the laptops during study hall, no one uses them to do school work. Then when something unfamiliar comes up in class, no one seems to know how to use the internet to help them educate themselves. I can't tell you how many times I have said, “Isn't it odd that you all know how to text but can't seem to figure out how to google an unfamiliar term/concept?”

    One head nod to technology: I am a big fan of Playaways for long car trips.


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