Forming Savvy Consumers: Talking Over Ads With Your Teens

The other day, my husband was on a website that caters to those who like to keep up with NASA and the space program (yes, he’s a bit of a space geek).  There, flanking the content, on both sides, were two Hooters babes.  He made sure I knew that he was innocently looking at the space stuff, not the curvy young ladies!  I’ve also noticed how–amazingly–my computer search engine knows what I’m interested in, and gives me targeted ads based on what I’ve recently looked at.

Our children are bombarded with messages all day long, and need to be taught to be critical thinkers and saavy consumers.  I  found some great questions to talk through WITH our teens when we see an ad on TV, or in a magazine, or on the internet.  Even just a few sessions of doing this can train our kids not to accept every message that comes across their field of vision!  The following is adapted from youth expert Walt Mueller’s CPYU website:

1. What product is this ad selling?
2. What, besides the product, does this ad sell? (ideas, lifestyle, worldview, behaviors, etc.)
3. What’s the bait, hook, and promise?
4. Complete this sentence: “This ad tells me, use________ (the name of the product) and ___________ (the result the ad promises).
5. Does the ad tell the truth? What? How?
6. Does the ad tell a lie(s)? What? How?
7. How does the ad and its messages agree or disagree with my (or our family’s) values and what does that mean for me?