Young children have a difficult time distinguishing between advertisements and content. Take a look at our research on Advertising to Children and Teens and see how digital media have dramatically changed the advertising landscape, to now include immersive websites, advergaming, viral marketing, mobile ads, social media marketing and precise behavioral and location targeting, blurring the lines between advertising and entertainment.
Here are some tips to teach your children to view advertising critically and reduce the risk that they will be taken advantage of:
· Help kids identify different types of advertising messages.Watch television or play a video game together and point out the products and logos used as props or part of the story line.
· Tell your kids never to click on an ad or fill out a form without permission. Contests and promotions are devious ways for companies to collect emails and phone numbers.
· Find out who’s behind it. Ask your kids if they know who created a particular ad, which words, images, or sounds were used to attract their attention, and if the product was obvious or subtle.
· Explain “tricks” that advertisers use in commercials.Advertisers often use Vaseline to make hamburgers look juicy or celebrities to endorse products, and kids need to know that no matter how clever the gimmicks, they’re still ads.
· Talk about the spokesperson. When ads use celebrities or “regular people” (who are usually actors) to influence purchases, ask your kids what their qualities communicate about the product.
· Ask how they felt before and after watching an ad. Help your kids identify the emotions or desires an ad prompts them to feel, and make it clear how ads make people want things they don’t need.
· Remind kids that their self-worth is not determined by what they own. Emphasize that qualities such as character, kindness, effort, and empathy are most important – not material items.