Childhood has become increasingly commercialised as young people spend more time online, inside and outside school. The average person is estimated to see a whopping 5,000 adverts every day.

These activities will help your students develop a healthy scepticism towards the marketing content that permeates their online world.

  1. Invite your class to share examples of subtle or “hidden” advertising that they spot online. Do they think it is always clear when they are being sold to?
  2. Draw students’ attention to adverts on the apps and websites you use in the classroom. Discuss: do they ever click on ads thinking that they are part of an app? How can they tell what is and isn’t advertising?
  3. Invite your class to come up with ways in which advertisers make brands appear cool or “must-have”. Which techniques are most effective? Do any of these advertising techniques influence their buying choices?
  4. Hold a class debate around the motion “Young people are more likely to buy something recommended by someone they like or admire.”
  5. Encourage your class to challenge advertising claims. Can they think of examples of adverts that make the product look far better than it really is? Have they been disappointed by a product they’ve bought after seeing it advertised?
  6. Challenge your class to create an advert (this could be a poster, video, social post, quiz or meme) using the ad industry’s tricks of the trade:
  • association with someone cool or admired
  • limited-time offers create a sense of urgency
  • games, quizzes, videos, humour generating positive feelings about a product (“brand affinity”)
  • sharability encouraging you to share with your friends
  • humour to make you laugh and generate positive feelings about a product
  • testimonials or endorsements from a celebrity or ‘influencer’
  • competitions, prizes, freebies to grab your attention, and gather information
  • sales or price promotions to create a sense of good value
  • fears about a problem or to heighten a sense of insecurity
  • must-haves to play on your fear of missing out
  1. Teach primary school pupils (8-12) about the advertising that surrounds them with Admongo (requires Flash) – an interactive game designed to increase children’s understanding of who makes ads, how they work and what advertisers want them to do.
  2. Raise secondary school students’ awareness of how they are influenced by advertising. Set an assignment: “How do advertisers take advantage of teenagers’ desires to fit in and be seen as attractive or cool?” Encourage your class to consider different media formats such as social, video, in-store, sponsorship, online, events, TV and logos.

Brilliant marketers are coming up with ever-more creative and discreet ways of getting people to buy their products. They regularly blend advertising with entertainment, information or even education. Raising awareness of these marketing techniques will enable your students to become savvy about advertising, helping them to understand their own reactions to ads and develop greater autonomy over their buying decisions.

The Digital Life Skills Company offers fun, creative and participative workshops to schools to help young people become smarter consumers of digital media. Drop us a line to find out more.

Read next…

Spotting Advertising Online: Why We Need To Educate Young People.

Teach Your Child To Spot Hidden Advertising Online.

Be Ad-Aware! Chats To Have With Your Child.

Image: Fiona Bailey