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Admongo: The FTC Gets into the Advertising Literacy Business

Admongo: The FTC Gets into the Advertising Literacy Business

Media Education Lab researchers aren't crazy about the Federal Trade Commission's new advertising literacy curriculum.


A federal agency is schooling youngsters in the ways of Madison Avenue. But researchers at the Media Education Lab don't think the agency got the message right on core elements of the new advertising literacy interactive game and curriculum, Admongo.

The New York Times reports that 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.

But researchers at the Media Education Lab aren't confident that the new curriculum and online game live up to its claims of helping kids think critically about advertising. As David Cooper Moore and Renee Hobbs explain:

Questions of representation-reality, values, ethics, and the real-world impact of marketing are unavoidable when exploring advertising literacy with children. Eight to twelve-year-olds can understand how advertising can be deceptive, flattering and overpromising in ways that promote greed and materialism. They can recognize that ads conflate products with deeper human needs, making products seem more important than other social values to the detriment of the individual and the society. But the Admongo curriculum steers far away from these deeper issues, and instead reduces advertising literacy to its most non-controversial and fundamental level: building advertising awareness.

Read their article on our blog.