With certain advertisers already promising more-risqué commercials this year, it’s important to understand what you can do to help filter the messages your kids might be hearing during the “Big Game” this Sunday:
- Kids under 7 may not understand that an ad’s purpose is to sell them a product rather than entertain them. You can point out that the ads they see during the Big Game are really meant for grown-ups. Ask them what they think the ads are selling. Sometimes, they won’t even know. And hit the mute button for alcohol ads or spots with violent content. Neither is age appropriate.
- Share some facts. The food and beverage industry spends more than $10 billion targeting children and youths through TV ads, coupons, contests, public relations promotions, and packaging. And 80 percent of the TV commercials are for fast food, candy, cereal and toys.
- Give your kids some ad-proofing decoder tips: Ask them who they think created the ad and why they’re sending the messages they are. Who makes money from the ads? What tricks do your kids think the advertisers used to make them want to buy the products being promoted? Does an ad use a favorite celebrity? Does it have some feelings associated with the product—like happiness? What isn’t the ad telling them?
- Distinguish fantasy from reality. How many calories are in that jumbo burger and soda and those extra-large fries?
- If your kids are too young to understand the ad, hit the mute button. As a parent, you know best, so anything that feels uncomfortable, you may have to have a conversation you weren’t expecting. If your kids are old enough to talk about the issues, make sure that they’re learning about your perspective and values from you, not getting secondhand opinions from the media or kids on the playground.