Sunday, July 18, 2010

Critical Thinking: Analyzing Media for Kids

As my children watch advertisements on tv, I've noticed how easily influenced they are by the ads.  Especially when my seven year old asked for a SHAM WOW for her birthday!  And  on a more serious note- yesterday when my 6 year old said to me- oh, I like that song, they play it in the Bud Light Commercial.  Really??? Now why would she even see a Bud Light Commercial- maybe watching a late night game show with Dad? Not sure, but boy did that catch me off guard.

One of the activities that my co-worker and I did with our fourth grade students was to teach them propaganda techniques and how to analyze advertisements and commercials.  This morning, I was going through my Publisher Clearing House mailing (keep your fingers crossed for me!) and almost threw my ads in the recycle bin.  But then I thought- these ads would be great to do a critical thinking activities with the girls, so I held on to them.  (Hmmm. Wonder why I have a house of clutter???) 
Take a look at one of the ads-

Fabulous Hairstyles Instantly
Works like magic
Create Amazing Hairstyles
So easy to use!

Wouldn't it be fun to teach the kids about different techniques and then have them point out the technique the advertiser is trying to use to get them to buy the product.  Not only is it fun for kids, it helps them to think critically about he ads that are thrown at them daily. (This is why I adore PBS- no advertisements!!)  I actually started talking to my kids about this at an early age when they were going ga ga over all of the Christmas toy ads. 

So you are asking- what are these secret techniques you  plan on teaching your children? Don't worry, I'm getting to them! Keep in mind that you can point out these different tricks by simplifying the language.  Below are some of the techniques often used in advertisements.

Bandwagon -- the implication that "everybody else is doing it."
All the kids have silly bands, so you need them, too!

Plain folks -- the implication that "users of this product are just like you."
Family sitting at table eating Mac and Cheese or a Mom in sweats throwing a load in the laundry.

Card stacking -- distorting or omitting facts.
Fluffy cakes are low in fat. (they don't tell you that the amount of sugar in them is outrageous or about the chemicals in them, etc.)

Glittering generalities -- using "good" labels, such as patriotic, beautiful, exciting, that are unsupported by facts. (above example- fabulous hairstyles instantly)

Testimonial-- an endorsement by a famous person.
Tiger Woods and Nike

Snob appeal -- the implication that only the richest, smartest, or most important people are doing it.
Buy Pristine Perfume if you want to stand out in a crowd.

Transference -- The commercial is intended to make viewers feel certain emotions, such as happiness, sadness, or excitement. The viewers may transfer their feeling to the product.
Tween girls at a slunber party laughing and having a great time as they use the product.

Repetition- - repeating the same word(s) over and over in an ad
Buy frosty pops today. Frosty pops are the best.  Buy your frosty pops today!

Explore Food Marketing with this fun game!
Co Co's Adversmarts- Get your kids creativity flowing as they make their own advertisement for Co Co Cereal.  As they make different choices, the game explains the tactics used to market the product.

This game for ages 5-8 explores the following marketing tactics:
Theme and Setting

PBS Kids- Don't Buy It: Awesome resource with information on advertising tricks and buying smart. Made especially for kids, it includes games and activities to help kids think critically about media!

Includes activities such as be an Ad Detective and Create a Magazine Ad.

Enjoy your day with your Creative and Curious Kids!



Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

This is great. I remember an elementary school teacher taking a few minutes to explain these things to us, and it made a big impression on me just to be aware of some of the "tricks" advertisers do to try to get kids or parents to buy a product. It's amazing really. And they seem to be getting more and more aggressive towards kids nowadays.

Melissa Taylor said...

Great reminder -- and a similar thing happened to me when my 4 year old who was watching too much Noggin or something similar asked if I wanted a personal doctor? and pitched me some insurance to buy. Talk about a wake up call.



Erin said...

This is such a great idea! We used to just watch PBS for kid shows, but now we're starting to run into this same problem. My older boys love sports, so they watch on weekends with Dad. I cannot believe the commercials during sports games!
We're going to start the little critical thinking discussions ASAP! Thanks!

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