As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!
     

How to Teach Kids About Advertising

This article was written by in Consumer, Featured. 8 comments.


As I sat down to write this article, a commercial for an upcoming movie appeared on the television. Here was my thought process throughout the minute-long trailer. One: I recognize that voice. That’s Ben Stiller, who is adequate in comedies but better in movies that are slightly off mainstream. Two: The music in the background sounds nice. Three: The premise of this movie sounds interesting. I might be able to relate to it, or at least find the story interesting. Four: I think I’ll go see this movie. It might be the first decent movie I’ll see this year.

I consider myself a picky consumer, so I don’t pay too much attention to advertising — at least consciously. If I see this film, however, the marketing will have worked on me. I am likely in the target market for this movie.

Advertising can have effects worse than spending $10.50 on a movie in a theater. The Federal Trade Commission and the Bureau of Consumer Protection have come together to create a resource for parents to share with their children to help explain how advertising works to influence your decisions at Admongo. The site sets out with the goal to answer these questions: “Who makes ads? How do they work? What do they want you to do?”

Avoidance of advertising is practically impossible; education should focus on safe consumerism rather than abstinence from retail. As consumers grow more immune to traditional advertising, marketers will find more ways to infiltrate the minds of the public.

There are two keys to teaching children about how to think critically when faced with advertising.

When you encounter advertising, particularly if it’s somewhat disguised, discuss what the message is trying to convince you. When a company claims its product beats a competing brand, what does that mean? Are there any other questions you need to ask yourself? What is the marketing message not saying about the product?

As with anything you do as a parent, your actions will act as models. If you put a value on being an informed consumer through your interactions with this material world, there’s a good chance your children, with repeated encouragement and direction. will eventually see the value as well.

Just for fun, take a look at just a portion of all the advertising you are subjected to when attending a baseball game.

Citi Field Advertisements

Updated May 2, 2010 and originally published April 27, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

Email Email Print Print
avatar
Points: ♦127,495
Rank: Platinum
About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Matt Bell

Great article, Flexo. And thanks for the info about the FTC site. I had never heard of that.

Another idea for teaching kids about advertising, which I heard from someone else, is to play a game called “Identify the Lie.” I don’t believe all advertising contains lies, but in the game kids are encouraged to see if they can come up with anything being stated or implied that may not be true (“Will you really have friends that look like that if you wear that brand of clothes?”). It gets kids thinking about the underlying messages.

Reply to this comment

avatar Luke Landes ♦127,495 (Platinum)

Matt: That game sounds like a great idea. It should inspire some critical thinking… and cynicism, which comes in handy later in life. :-)

Reply to this comment

avatar Financial Samurai

Identify the lie… very interesting! I wonder if that’s good for kids though… giving them a pessimistic, and tainted view on life so early on.

Reply to this comment

avatar Pop

As bad as advertising is here, at least we’re not in Indonesia. Apparently cigarette advertising there is out of control. Toddlers are getting hooked on the stuff. Check out this story at Marginal Revolution: http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2010/04/sentences-to-ponder-4.html

Reply to this comment

Leave a Comment

Connect with Facebook

Note: Use your name or a unique handle, not the name of a website or business. No deep links or business URLs are allowed. Spam, including promotional linking to a company website, will be deleted. By submitting your comment you are agreeing to these terms and conditions.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Previous post:

Next post: