Recently Lisa Williams wrote about a media literacy for kids:
“One of the most basic aspects of media literacy for pre-reading kids is the ability to distinguish an ad from other content they see on television. This tip has worked for me with my kids, three and five: when thereâ€™s an advertisement on the screen, yell out, â€œWhat are they trying to sell you?â€ This makes my kids really focus on what the ad is doing, and reinforces, again and again, that advertisements are there because companies want to sell something to them (well, to their parents).
“My kids like it, and now do it themselves as a game. It can be adapted for trips outside, if you are in an environment that has billboards or other advertising.”
Well, here’s a media literacy game for grownups: Watch this Slate V video tutorial on the 12 basic TV advertising formats. Then when you’re watching TV with friends, try to identify those formats and speculate about why that format was chose for that product and pitch. That particular discussion is missing from the Slate video, unfortunately, but it’s worth pondering.
Because that’s the key point about media literacy. It’s not just recognizing what messages you’re receiving, but stepping back and understanding how and why people are trying to influence you.
…Or if you’re not up to having a discussion, just make a drinking game out of it every time a particular ad format crops up.