Great ‘ad-ucation’ tool for teaching media literacy

By Anne Collier

Critical thinking is user (not just consumer) protection in this age of information overexposure. The FTC seems to agree. It just launched Admongo.gov, a virtual world and Web site to help kids 8-12 decode the code the ads all around them in a very mobile digital media environment, to get their “ad-ucation,” as the Federal Trade Commission puts it. It’s a great resource for any media-literacy teachers working with students in grades 4-6 on recognizing deconstructing advertising. As it says on the teachers’ page, the free curriculum is designed to “help kids learn to ask three key ‘critical thinking’ questions when they encounter advertising: Who is responsible for the ad? What is the ad actually saying? [and] What does the ad want me to do?” Says reviewer Steve Smith in MediaPost.com, “Just when you are about to dismiss Admongo.gov as another misfire [another “Duck & Cover” campaign of the federal government], it actually starts to feel interesting, if not fun.” Media Post says the game makes the important points that ads are baked into just about everything, from T-shirts to texts, and there’s a difference between entertainment and advertainment. That’s on the lower levels. Then the game takes users to higher levels in Admongo that explain “the nitty-gritty of targeting and how ads find the right person at the right place and at the right time.” Smith encountered a technical glitch at mid-level, but the FTC knows about it, and I know those guys. I’m sure they’re fixing it. There’s also a text and video version that works well for anybody, including families working on media literacy, an increasingly important topic these days!

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