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I'd disagree, no one is forcing people to buy iPhones. If the kids all have iPhones, then they have parents who aren't very good at not buying things they can't afford and teaching their kids that worth doesn't come from possessions.

>> no one is forcing people to buy iPhones.

It's not that simple.

I once heard a lecture from a psychologist researching the effects brands have on teenagers, and she said owning a brand can deeply affect a teenager's self-assurance, create anxieties, etc.

It is that simple. This is how we learn as young people what is important in life. It gives us character. I was poor growing up, I always had garbage clothes and shoes, and people made fun of me. I learned that if someone made fun of my shoes, they didn't have very much character. I also learned that shoes don't matter too much, as long as I have a pair that protects my feet. All of this focus on self-esteem and confidence are bunk. We've become a society of soft, pathetic whiners. you know when I had a nice pair of shoes? I got a job at Subway for 7.00 an hour and saved some money to buy a pair.

> I learned that if someone made fun of my shoes, they didn't have very much character.

Isn't that basically learning self-esteem and confidence?

It could be, but the focus is different because I'm not counting on my iPhone to artificially give me the confidence that I lack.

I remember, it's tough to be a teenager. It's a shame they have to go through that.

But at the end of the day if you can't afford lunch, you need to reevaluate your priorities. Maybe get a slightly older iPhone, or one of the many cheaper but comparable Androids.

Just because the school provides free lunch to everyone does not mean the family cannot afford lunch. At some point it becomes cheaper to just give everyone lunch than to deal with the hassle of deciding which kid owes $1.55 and which doesn't. In fact, providing free lunch to all children in public school is an extremely cheap way of marginally reducing kids' awareness of who's poor and who isn't.

Very marginal if at at all. Believe me especially by middle school and older, everyone knows who is poor, who is rich, who is a slut, who is religious, who is a jock, etc. And there are other ways, e.g. everyone has a swipe card or number code to "pay" for their lunch and you never know who's on the free lunch program or not.

I've never heard of a school giving free lunch by default, though. Maybe in areas where 99% of the kids would qualify anyway?

It's a pretty recent program, and it's only available if the school has over 40% eligibility, but it exists, and it's great: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/cn/CEPfactsheet....

> Maybe in areas where 99% of the kids would qualify anyway?

Yes. Which there are a lot of, because poverty is so extremely concentrated.

Even if it doesn't increase kids' knowledge, it still draws attention to it (both to peers and the kid themself) and provides an opportunity for bullying.

People spend money on the things that they are not given for free.

I don't know if my comment is worthless, but even well off Americans/Westerners take for granted an immense number of things they receive effectively for free. If everything was itemized and billed directly society would be organized very differently.

This is not subsidized just through tax revenue but through forced borrowing as well as things others are obligated to perform for free (as complex as hospital care to as simple as clearing the sidewalk of snow in front of your property.)

Some of these things may last indefinitely, others the economics simply will not permit it, yet they are viewed as existing indefinitely by most.

I'm fairly confident they did evaluate their priorities.

"Free" lunches are provided by the state, so they don't need to budget for that expense. Lunch @ $3/day, 20 days/month in school, school year runs 10 months/year. Those "free" lunches just paid for the iPhone.

And advertisement is made to make you feel insecure so you feel compelled to purchase which ever product is advertised. But psychological pressure is regarded as ok in a consumerist society when it serve to sell product and support the view that economical growth is the only way to go.

I didn't have brand name anything in high school. I got through it okay. Wasn't the most popular kid by any means, but I was shy to begin with (I didn't start being more outgoing until I started going to regular meetups recently, years after I had owned 'status symbol' iPhones).

I'm not denying that other teens can and do feel the way your psychologist said, but I'm pretty sure it's a learned behavior, not something innate, and can be unlearned.

I'm not expert in that subject, but the psychologist, who saw this deeply, over many different kids, saw it as a big problem. An i'm sure she knew full well what's innate/learnable and how practical is that unlearning process.

That's probably true but I can't help but arm-chair-expert assume there's got to be a better solution than blind consumerism. My guess is these teens have an underlying confidence issue that should be resolved not just bandaged with status symbols.

At a guess a lot of the phones are bought on payment plans with carriers - so the up front cost is relatively manageable but you're paying for 2 years. This kind of deal is much much harder to value correctly and for sure people are looking at it as a "we can find $40 a month" rather than "that's equivalent to a price of $900 - can we afford that?".

I'm sad that I can't disagree with you. Most people don't realize how much those monthly (and daily) expenses add up.

A huge failing of our society is that we don't teach people how to be responsible with money. All they see are ads telling them to buy more, spend all your money, keep up with the Joneses.

Either you have parents who teach you, or you figure it out on your own. And for the poorer people, it's just a cycle where they don't know, so their kids don't know.

I just wonder sometimes if it is really that hard to figure this on their own. We can't teach every basic thing to everyone. I would hope that people are able to figure such obvious things on their own. It is really strange that they don't.

Most people just don't know any better. And when the social norm is spending all your money (and then some) on things you don't need, most people don't even realize there's another option.

I myself didn't realize until I stumbled upon Mr. Money Mustache two years ago (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/), and it kind of woke me up. Now I buy way less, save at least half my income every month, and am overall much happier.

But worth does come from possessions. Your worth is based on the opinion of other people, and they judge you based on what you have and what your job title is.

Financial worth comes from your net worth, yes. But your worth as a human being isn't related to any of that.

I hear this a lot, but the evidence indicates that the majority of humanity judge a person's worth on their assets, money and job title. Sometimes, physical appearance as well.

It wasn't/isn't as extreme as today in some other cultures. In the orthodox jewish culture, you'll get a better bride by being very good at learning the scriptures. There's also a lot of respect for people who do good deeds.

You don't have to listen to random strangers' judgments though.

And what about all the people who are not random strangers? The people who can have a material effect on my life and will do so, in part, on their assessment of my worth? Shall I ignore them as well? What does that get me?

The points I was making without spelling them out explicitly, before being confronted with the sad fact that too many people appear to have been watching the Hallmark Channel, are that there is no such thing as intrinsic worth, people make decisions that affect you based in part upon their assessment of your worth, and a lot of that assessment is based on possessions, money, job title and physical appearance.

Choosing to ignore this doesn't make it go away.

Well, my friends really don't care what kind of phone I have.

I genuinely don't believe you. I believe they look at your phone and that influences the opinion they have of you. I believe that if you tell yourself this isn't true, you're deceiving yourself. If I believe this, some of them do too, and that makes it true. I don't think I've ever met anyone who looked at the latest iPhone the same way they looked at a ten-year old phone held together with tape and a rubber band.

Until you want a sex partner, a job, or just a friend

(I used to dismiss the importance of appearence as well. But the few days I do dress nice, everything changes)

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