Teaching Kids to Be Ad Savvy
April 27th, 2010 - 31 Comments
“A federal agency is undertaking an effort to school youngsters in the ways of Madison Avenue,” The New York Times reports. “The initiative seeks to educate children in grades four through six—tweens, in the parlance of marketing—about how advertising works so they can make better, more informed choices when they shop or when they ask parents to shop on their behalf.”
Smeal’s Marvin Goldberg coauthored a 2007 paper on teaching children how to think critically about the messages contained in advertising, except Goldberg and his colleagues focused on advertisements for alcoholic beverages. Their results suggest that education about advertising tactics and persuasive language can make children think more critically about the constant barrage of advertising that targets them.
The researchers designed a weeklong intervention to educate children about the persuasive tactics used by advertisers. Teachers presented the lessons to students in 50-minute sessions once a day for five days. The instruction provided students with persuasion knowledge and equipped them with critical thinking skills and processing strategies to question alcohol advertising and better deal with the ads’ persuasive messages, ultimately reducing the children’s inclination to drink.
“Our basic premise was that getting youths to better understand advertisers’ motives and tactics would result in heightened vigilance and a reactance response,” Goldberg and his colleagues write in the paper.
What they found bodes well for this new Federal Trade Commission education initiative. Their results show that the students who learned about advertising strategy and critical thinking, particularly those who had previously consumed alcohol, expressed more critical attitudes toward alcohol advertising and stronger intentions not to drink in the future.
According to Goldberg, who has spent decades studying alcohol, food, and tobacco advertising and its effects on young people, the relative simplicity of the instruction makes this kind of program viable for schools. Past alcohol and drug programs have been canceled or phased out because of their expense, time consumption, or lack of results. A program like this one, in which teachers administer the short lessons taking up little class time, could be feasible and produce results.News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.