Watercooler

Posted: Friday, May 16, 2003

KIDS STRESS: Losing a job is the height of stress for most of us, especially as the bills don't stop. But adults often fail to realize how stressful the loss of a job can also be on children, according to Lee Hecht Harrison, a New Jersey-based career-services firm.

It makes little sense to try to hide unemployment from a child, said Bernadette Kenny, an executive vice president at the firm. Kids generally know when something's amiss, and if you don't discuss the situation, they are likely to internalize the issue and harbor their own fears alone.

Kenny said children should be told what they can expect in coming months, and what sacrifices they may have to make.

''Kids 5-10 years old are usually anxious about having money for food,'' she said. ''Those 11-16 worry about needing to move and not having the same material things as others in their peer group. Those 17-21 are concerned about being able to afford college, or whether they will have to move home and help support their family.''

Also, teens also may be uneasy about having a parent around the house more, be it for general prying or more diligence about homework and/or doing chores.

HEALTHY FOODS: Those intricate labels on prepared foods these days have a wide reading audience, according to a survey that found Americans overwhelmingly interested in improving their diets.

Nearly two-thirds of supermarket shoppers, 64 percent, said they consider the nutritional value of products before they decide whether to buy them, according to an online survey of 500 people.

Americans also appear less price sensitive when it comes to perceived ''healthy products'' almost half, 46 percent, said they would pay more. And 20 percent said they'd sacrifice taste for a healthier food. The survey was conducted by research firm InsightExpress.

RATING AMUSEMENT: Consumer Reports recently turned its pollsters loose on the subject of amusement parks.

The central Florida industry behemoths, Seaworld and Epcot, fared well for value, with the magazine saying more than 40 percent of 2,500 people who visited between November 2000 and November 2002 rated them positively for their affordability.

On the other end of that ranking was Disney's California Adventure, in Anaheim, Calif.; Knott's Berry Farm, north of San Diego; and Universal Studios Hollywood and Florida. Fewer than 30 percent called those attractions a good value.

Some of the magazine's tips for a better trip:

Surf the Web: Before you choose your destination, visit the parks' Web sites to get detailed descriptions of rides and attractions, price-shop for a room, order tickets, learn about restaurants and find deals and discounts.

Be alert for deals: The stalled economy can be a boon for tourists. Nearly 70 percent of respondents said they paid less than the regular admission price of about $42 to $52 a day.

Beware of package deals: They may sound good, but they can be hard to cancel and may cost more in the long run. And given the cost and complaints about food, consider eating a snack for lunch and having breakfast and dinner outside the park.

Crowds can kill a good time: Hordes of people make or break a vacation, especially if you spend all your time in line. More than a quarter, 27 percent, of visitors said they wish they'd gone at a less crowded time; and nearly a third groused about long lines.



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