Editor's Response: Paul, I spent very little time researching this...it's late...my weekend is coming to an end...and besides that, the first website I hit had the advice I was willing to use. It seems as though this is not a parental myth, yet I don't remember my parents being the ones that warned me about this. I think this came when I actually bought my first microwave and I read the instructions. But, if your parents warned you...consider yourself blessed. My parents could not care less if I was staring into the microwave, they just didn't want me running up escalators or swimming in the pool before my food digested.
Anyhow, in your neck of the woods (Indiana actually), there are some folks that call themselves "a moment in science" and have a pretty decent website. Here is their entry on the whole microwave deal. Actually, they answer the "metal in the microwave" question, but along the way they mention that it is NOT okay to look into a microwave for more than a few seconds. There is a reason...it involves radiation and heated molecules...blah blah blah...you can read it. But be careful to give your kids the correct advice, otherwise you are in danger of starting a parental myth.
For example, it's okay to say "it's bad for your eyes," but it's probably not okay to say that "it will reprogram your ability to see colors." Likewise, you can warn your kids that it's not a good thing, but you don't want to mention that glancing at a thawing chicken through the dot-mesh microwave screen will "fry their developing rods and cones."
So, be careful, you have the next generation to think about. We don't need an entire generation of children ducking out of the way of microwaves.
By the way, did you read the first bit of advice on that website: Don't put animals into a microwave. I realize that myth has been circulating since we were kids, but really...if you need to be told not to put live animals in the microwave...you don't deserve to have a microwave (and you don't deserve to have an animal). You actually should be at the point in life where people are making your food and cutting it up into bite sized pieces and preferably serving it to you...
Quietly making noise,