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Sponsor a virtual child

Ask the children to offer food to the starving child to help them grow strong and healthy. Ask the child to guess which food the starving child would offer them to help them grow. Talk about what they actually ate today. (Display everyday 'good' and 'bad' options.)

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Written by DeletedUser

Drawing on the notion of helping others. Using empathy. Using the explicit advertising for sponsoring a child as leverage. Contrasting how they would help others and how they actually harm themselves by their eating choices. Highlighting our generalisation of third world hunger with our shortening of lifespan of our first world children through bad food choices.
A variation for older children could include 'What would you feed this child to make them unhealthy at 20 years old? What did you eat today?
It could be extended online.

Age of kids. The solutions to changing kids’ eating behaviors will vary depending on their age. What works for a toddler won’t necessarily fly for a teenager, although we suspect some concepts might be appropriate for all ages—even adults! Which age bracket does your concept address (tick all relevant boxes)?

  • Middle school (Tweens) 11-13
  • High school (Teens) 14 -18
  • Young adults 18-21

Hurdles to success. Helping kids make smarter food choices comes with a variety of hurdles that have to be addressed in order for a design solution to be successful, which of these do you think that your Concept overcomes (tick all relevant boxes)?

  • Lack of Knowledge

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Photo of Chandra Shekhar

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I think there's a gem of a great idea in this concept. Kids love nurturing virtual pets and places, Nintendo DS etc have already demonstrated this. The idea that the children could feed their virtual child and perhaps make better food choices than they would for their real self is quite an interesting idea. It may help tie up their engagement with their diet and the implications it has on their bodies.

It needs to be carefully constructed (in consultation with psychologists who specialise in children's eating habits) or I think this concept presents certain risks. I don't think we should be encouraging children to label food options as "good" or "bad" but rather encouraging them to create a moderate balance to which our bodies are best suited. My friends who have the most healthy relationship with food can sit down and enjoy a slice of cake without thinking of it as sinful. It is those for whom the slice of cake is steeped in guilt that are more likely to be trapped in unhealthy relationships with food.

I don't think the idea of tackling the issue of third world poverty and poor nutritional choices is the right way to sensitively encourage and enable children to make healthy food choices. The idea of starting the "game" with a starving child could be harmful and offensive. It is teaching extremes, when we should be teaching moderation.

Eating will always be an emotional experience, our bodies are designed to receive information about what we are putting into our mouths in this way. We need to build knowledge and understanding in young children so that their food choices can be informed with facts and not just feelings. This concept could be a great tool if constructed carefully to better synthesise the drivers behind a child's food choices.

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Interesting concept. The better the food given, the better the child does, I presume. For instance: feeding the child with a balanced meal from fresh foods helps the child more than feeding it pizza or processed food.
It resembles the old Tamgotchi principle and the popular Moshi Monster site. I think you could be on to something!