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!