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Admongo aims to educate kids on ads



How often have you been blindsided when your child wants to see a movie you've never heard of or try "an amazing new snack that's really good for you"? If you want to know where they get their information, look no further than their favorite TV channel and the ever-present commercials.

According to recent reports, kids as young as 12 years-old are consuming up to 7 hours of media a day. Along with the problem of just too much screen time comes a torrent of advertising. Which is why the Federal Trade Commission has partnered with education giant Scholastic.com in launching a campaign to educate children about advertising. It's called Admongo, and its goal is to give kids the skills they need to identify advertising and avoid manipulation.

"Today's kids see advertising everywhere – in movies and TV shows, outdoors, on phones, in games," says 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."

In an effort to do just that, the FTC hopes that Admongo will teach kids to become more aware of the tricks of the advertising trade by identifying and evaluating ads for themselves.

At the heart of the Admongo campaign is a game that lets kids play and learn at the same time. Kids create an avatar and work their way through four levels of play to help them think critically about advertising. Kids learn to ask the three most important questions: Who is responsible for the ad? What is it actually saying? What does it want me to do? (A "cheat sheet" is available at the Admongo site, so non-gaming parents can keep up with their kids.)

Other elements of the campaign include in-school curricula that are tied to state standards of learning; sample ads that can be used at home and in the classroom; and teacher training videos.

Although the campaign focuses on helping tweens analyze commercial messages, the critical thinking skills it teaches can help tweens evaluate non-commercial messages, including editorial content and literature.

Oscar Ramírez, a teacher at Oyster-Adams Bilingual School in Washington DC, called the Admongo game and resources a "no brainer". "It's free, well done, and smart, and it gives teachers the tools to help students develop much-needed skills," he said. "Students can transfer these skills to when they read a poem, or a novel, or the text in a history book, or the newspaper."



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