Super Bowl Ads and Kids

If your kids are planning on watching the Super Bowl, you should be aware of the new type of advertising that is designed to connect with your kids in a deeper way – especially by using social media. Here I share the perspective of Common Sense Media on what’s happening and also to provide some tips for parents to keep in mind on Super Bowl Sunday. You may also want to consider a report they just released about today’s advertising landscape at http://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/advertising-to-children-and-teens-current-practices   

KIDS AS PART OF THE PRODUCT-SELLING CYCLE
Let’s start with a break down of how this is happening from Common Sense Media:
As inappropriate as many of the Super Bowl ads will be for kids, TV ads are the least of parents’ concern as advertising methods today are blurring the lines between advertising and entertainment for even the savviest media consumer — let alone young kids, and kids are becoming part of the product-selling cycle.  

Now, instead of relying on big-screen shock value to capture attention, this year advertisers are relying on our kids in large part to spread the word for them. For example, Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” ad contest has been seeking votes all over the web – including kids’ game site Addicting Games – where behavioral and location information can be collected to target ads, and where likes, shares and views are the new measure of success. And while traditional advertising and its effects on kids has been well researched, no one knows the impact of these new media platforms. 

No doubt Super Bowl ads can be outrageous and inappropriate, but millions of kids will be on phones and tablets while watching the big game and it’s the ads they interact with on these little screens – that might not even register as ads – that have far greater implications for kids’ healthy development today. 

WHAT PARENTS (AND KIDS) SHOULD KNOW

Caroline Knorr, Parenting Editor at Common Sense Media, provides the following take on the new landscape of advertising and kids:
While it’s fairly easy to explain to kids when ads are embedded in products (like happymeal.com) - because kids are literally interacting with the products on those platforms – it’s more difficult to explain the more insidious social marketing which makes kid consumers play an essential role in product promotion.
Retail sites like Abercrombie Kids, Justice, and others have “like” buttons and other social sharing options on all of their product pages. So, if a kid “likes” a pink t-shirt on Abercrombie kids, all of those kid’s friends will get the update from that site. That’s advertising. Sites that ask you to create outfits out of their clothes and then upload those photos (selfies) to the site – that’s advertising that you, the consumer, are providing free of charge to the brand.
TIPS FOR PARENTS
Knorr suggests the following tips for parents:
Train kids to recognize the word “ad” – and notice when something carries that label. Advertisers are required to use it in environments that wouldn’t necessarily be obvious (like online in apps, etc.)
Point out where all the ads are – especially the ones that use your search history to target specific ads to you (in games, online, Facebook, Google). Everything kids have searched for or emailed about or posted could potentially be data-mined to serve up specifically targeted ads.
Don’t sign up for text updates from advertisers. Beware of SPAM on cellphones – kids’ cell phones seem to get targeted often by spammers.
Ask your kids what they get out of the arrangement when they “like” a product on a site or upload selfies to a brand site.
FINAL THOUGHTS
From my vantage point, the most important thing here is for parents and kids to be aware of what they are doing online when it comes to retailers. That way informed decisions can be made and there will be at least some clarity of the role kids may (or may not) play in advertising. This year’s Super Bowl may provide a good platform for these kinds of discussions.

Could your child be a professional athlete when he or she grows up? Take our quiz to find out!

Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children

Family Watching TV via Shutterstock.com

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