Teaching kids how to read ads

To teach children how to read advertising, the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer bureau has created Admongo, where children in grades four through six can get an “ad-ucation” by playing games. From the New York Times:

“Advertising is all around you,” the home page declares in urging youngsters to always ask three questions: “Who is responsible for the ad? What is the ad actually saying? What does the ad want me to do?”

Many schools teach media literacy, “intended to help students analyze various methods of persuasion, among them sponsored messages,” the Times notes.

Admongo will be “nonjudgmental,” says David Vladeck, director of the consumer bureau. It won’t imply “that marketers continuously try to trick consumers into buying things they do not want or need.”

My father was an ad man, so I learned all this at home.

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  1. Michael E. Lopez, Esq. says:

    This was standard stuff when I was in 4th and 5th grade… and again in 8th grade. I’m glad to see it’s still on the schedule these days, and although I’m not wild about the federal government spending my money on a games site, I suppose it’s better than hiring more tax collectors.

    I played the game for a little bit. I could be wrong, but it seems better directed to third and fourth graders than fifth and sixth graders. I can’t imagine myself as a sixth grader sitting through something so obvious and tedious.

  2. georgelarson says:

    In my youth I learned about advertising from Mad Magazine. It ridiculed advertising, the industry behind it and the people who believed it.

  3. You can navigate to the glossary if you don’t want to try the gaming.

    It’s not as bad as I feared it would be.

    Not as insightful or as hard hitting as Vance Packard and The Hidden Persuaders, but it’s not bad. I can see it used in a unit on propaganda and advertising.

    I’d change the catch phrase, though, from “Advertising is all around you,” to “Watch out, you are surrounded by a lot of unscrupulous bastards who will use sex, lies and fear to steal your money.”

    And I’d supplement instruction by showing the YouTube video of Ice Lyfe performing a poem called “What part of you is really you?”

    If I could communicate with the dead and I told my father that it’s now common for people to buy bottled water, he’d either laugh or moan or call me a liar or wonder aloud why schools aren’t doing a better job teaching about advertising.

  4. “In my youth I learned about advertising from Mad Magazine. It ridiculed advertising, the industry behind it and the people who believed it.”

    Same here. But in 8th grade English we studied it and I found it fascinating in a love/hate way. Enough to major in it in college.
    Advertising is still a love/hate thing for me.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    Loved Mad Magazine.
    Hope they included political advertising in this.

  6. Judge Crater says:

    I’m glad the Federal Government is so successful in all its core missions that it has enough money left over to spend on “educational” game web sites. The Venn diagram intersection of those who need this site and those who use it for any length of time must be astonishingly small.

  7. Judge Crater says:

    And yes, my nine year-old subscribes to Mad Magazine.

  8. When I was nine years old, I remember the time my fussy old aunt from Omaha came out for a short visit. She was a scholar in some field; I forget which.

    She required that I drink orange juice for breakfast instead of Hawaiian Punch, and at dinner time, the TV had to be turned off.

    Seeking revenge, I shared with her my reading material, Mad Magazine.

    I assumed that would push her over the edge but instead she glanced at it, nodded her head, and said, “Oh, satire.”

    I didn’t know Mad Magazine was still printed. What a wonderful magazine.


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