With American youth exposed to more advertising than ever before, the Federal Trade Commission is kicking off a new advertising literacy campaign to help older children understand the ads they see and become smarter consumers.
“Today’s kids see advertising everywhere – in movies and TV shows, outdoors, on phones, in games,” said David C. Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “That’s why it’s important to teach them how to apply critical thinking skills to the ads they see. The resources at Admongo.gov help kids figure out who’s responsible for ads, what ads are saying, and what ads want their target audiences to do.”
The campaign is targeted to “tweens” aged 8 to 12, and includes a game-based website at Admongo.gov, a curriculum tied to national standards of learning in language arts and social studies that teachers can use to “ad-ucate” students, a library of fictional ads that can be used as teaching tools, and activities for parents and kids to do together. All these materials are free and in the public domain.
“When you think about whether the Admongo curriculum is accessible, it’s a no-brainer,” said Oscar Ramírez, a teacher at Oyster-Adams Bilingual School in Washington, DC. “It’s free, well done, and smart, and it gives teachers the tools to help students develop much-needed skills.”
“To me, the great thing about Admongo is that its gaming format is designed to reach out to children right at the age where they can actually distinguish between content and advertising,” said C. Lee Peeler, President and CEO of the National Advertising Review Council, and Executive Vice President for National Advertising Self-Regulation at the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
The online game at Admongo.gov allows kids to create an avatar and features four levels of play to help them think critically about advertising. In “The Atrium,” they identify the ads that are around them. In the “Assemblimator,” they learn how to take apart an ad, evaluate its claims, and figure out how ads try to persuade people. In the “Planadtarium,” they find out how ads are targeted, and in “The Adgitator,” they build and target their own ads. Throughout the game, players learn to ask the three critical questions about ads, no matter where they see them: Who is responsible for the ad? What is it actually saying? What does it want me to do?
The Federal Trade Commission works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices and to provide information to help people spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP 1 877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.