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In a world of ads, teaching students how to read them


A government campaign, built around a new web site called Admongo, will try to teach children from the fourth to the sixth grades how to think critically about advertising, reports the New York Times. The initiative seeks to educate children 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. The centerpiece of the effort is a web site called Admongo (admongo.gov), where visitors can get an “ad-ucation” by playing a game featuring make-believe products closely modeled on real ones. “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?” Sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, which polices deceptive, fraudulent, and unfair marketing and advertising practices, the initiative has enlisted educational publisher Scholastic to help distribute materials to classrooms. The idea that children need to understand how commercial speech differs from other forms of communication is not a new one. Many schools have courses in what is called media literacy, intended to help students analyze various methods of persuasion, among them sponsored messages. But the belief that youngsters ought to be given additional tools to help them decipher sales pitches has been gaining support as the internet, and social media in particular, are used more for marketing…

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