Still, its a step in the right direction and a good example to set. Nothing agitates me more than parents who buy a fish to teach their child 'responsibility', wing it, fishy wind up dead in a week and they flush him down the toilet. Now what have they taught their children? Pets are disposable!
My brother and my first fish were a pair of fantails in a 2g tank. At that time (I was about 8 and my bro was 6. In 1990 )even books written specifically on Goldfish (and published recently) gave instructions on how to filter your goldfish bowl and all this utter B.S. that I know not to be true now. Heck, I was flipping through a book published in 2004 in the pet store the other day stating that it was the owner's choice as to keeping their goldfish in a bowl as opposed to a tank (they didn't state a minimum tank size either). After the failure of the 2g goldie tank and my 'betta bowl' (which I am ashamed to say held about half a litre of water), we tapped into the far more advanced info on tropical fishkeeping and set up a 10g with guppies, tetras and a betta under the inch per gallon rule. Even today I wonder at how my parents managed to get such a good setup going with all the misinformation out there!
With the availability of water test kits on the commercial market, aquarists are beginning to get an idea of how to properly stock tanks based on the levels of dissolved waste (ammonia, nitrite and nitrate) in the water. For instance, we thought goldies belonged in bowls and had a lifespan of 2 years until test kits came on the market in the 80s and 90s and people could actually see how quickly fish polluted small amounts of water. Even then, in the 70s nitrate levels of up to 400ppm were considered fine. Now, levels above 40ppm have been shown to cause severe neurological damage resulting in premature death!
Thankfully, forums are an excellent source of interactive and up-to-date info... on the internet we can contest things and hold each other accountable for bad advice. Since the hobby of fishkeeping is evolving so quickly I find the internet (for once) the most integrid source of information.