100 Family Media Literacy Activities, Ages Pre-School through Teen Years
Are You a “High Hopes” Parent?
Attending to Our Children’s Attention Span
Building the Foundation for Resiliency Skills
Live and Play in Your World: Stimulus Addiction and the Growing Brain
Looking for Meaning in All the Right Places
Parenting Today: The World Has Changed, Have We?
Parenting as a Living System
Reading the Screen
Screen Time and Obesity
Screen Violence: Impact on Self as Relational Being
Teaching Children Gratefulness
100 Family Media Literacy Activities (cont.)
6. Understand types of commercials.
While watching TV with your child, find and discuss examples of these types of commercials: Celebrity endorsements; unique viewpoint (for example, up high on a ladder, or underwater); testimonials or interviews; and use of special effects (animation, high-tech). Many commercials combine two or more of these. Encourage your child to start thinking about how the advertising executives made decisions about what to put in the commercial in order to hook attention and entice people to buy the product.
7. Are you the target?
In conjunction with the above activity or at a different time, you can ask your child to observe who the commercial is targeting and what techniques are used for that specific advertising audience—such as happy women cleaning their homes for cleaning products; and tough Western men driving their jeeps through rugged terrain. You can ask such questions as: “What commercials are specifically targeted to your age group? What does this age group respond to? What are its vulnerabilities? What are your and your friends’ strengths that enable you to reject the advertiser’s manipulations?
8. Slogan game.
Encourage your child, with a group of friends, to make a game by collecting and recording all the advertising slogans you can think of. Do it individually or in teams. Give each team a week of TV viewing to prepare. Have a small prize for the team that collects the most slogans. Vote on which slogan is thought to be best and discuss why. What emotions do you feel when you see particular slogans? What do you think about when you see them? Why did the ad agency choose those cartoon characters, that actor, those colors? Can you think of another slogan for this product? After they go through this process, have a pizza party with them to discuss what they learned about advertising slogans and their effect on them and others.
9. Grade a commercial.
Children can give a grade to the commercials they see during one program or over the course of a week. Grading is based on how well the commercial succeeds at making your child want the product. Give an A for the best, F for the least effective. Have your child tell you the reason for each particular grade. Explain the manipulative techniques that commercials use. Discuss which of those techniques are the most effective and why.
10. Emotions vs. facts.
Young teens are especially vulnerable to emotional appeals. While you watch TV with your child, point out how the commercials try to hook various feelings such as desire to belong to a crowd, happiness at having what you want; feelings of undesirability if you don’t look a certain way, etc. Point out any facts that are given about the product. Encourage your child to view commercials with an eye to consider the emotional appeals as well as any facts given.
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