Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
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.
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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.
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.
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Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
The new guidelines on screen time offered by the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) take as a premise that media use is “dominant” in kids’ lives. A new report issued by Common Sense Media provides detailed survey data which certainly supports this claim. Vicky Rideout, who directed the research, suggests that we are seeing an extraordinary growth in media use in general over the past two years – driven in particular by mobile devices. Consider some of these key findings as reported by Common Sense Media:
• In 2013, 75% of kids have access to mobile devices at home, up from 52%.
• Smartphones are still the most common device (63%, up from 41%), but tablet ownership is 5 times higher (8% to 40%).
• The number of kids who’ve used mobile devices has nearly doubled (38% to 72%); and average daily use of mobile devices has tripled, from 5 to 15 minutes a day.
• As many little babies and one-year-olds have used smartphones or tablets today as all kids under eight had done just two years ago (38%).
So what can we learn from these data – and what can parents do to make sure they are providing good guidance for their kids? Caroline Knorr, Parenting Editor at Common Sense Media, shared these insights and suggestions:
The report shows that families love mobile devices. There has been a five-fold increase in ownership of tablet devices since 2011. That means choosing high-quality, age-appropriate apps is more important than ever. Don’t treat app downloads as an impulse purchase – do your research to find the best ones that will really engage your kids in learning, thinking, and other skills. Common Sense Media offers reviews and ratings for parents – and while there are tons of apps in the app store, only a handful earn Common Sense Media’s four and five star ratings.Here’s a link to our Preschool Prep app reccommended list:
Kids really love mobile devices. Almost twice as many children have used mobile media compared to two years ago. That means it’s easier for parents to enjoy media WITH their kids — anywhere they are — instead of plopping them down in front of a stationary computer and not knowing what they’re doing. Take advantage of mobile device’s flexibility in allowing positive media experiences to happen with your kids where ever you happen to be. But along with that there’s a responsibility to make sure that kids aren’t OVER-using screens (and that you aren’t relying on devices as a babysitter, say in the car or in restaurants). Remember to balance kids’ days with a variety of experiences that promote healthy development. Allow them to develop the skills to self-soothe, be patient, and not have to be entertained 24/7. Here’s a link to Learn to Read apps:
TV is still king and families love to “time-shift.” Kids love TV – in fact, it is the dominant delivery system for educational content. Take advantage of “time-shifting” functions like your DVR, On Demand, and even streaming shows. Dig through the vast amount of offerings to find entertaining, educational shows – including all of the older shows you may have enjoyed as a kid and are offered by a lot of these services. These allow parents to make quality choices mindfully – rather than just letting one TV show flow into the next – and expose kids to a wider variety of content. They also allow you to reduce kids’ exposure to commercials. Here’s a link to classic streaming TV shows: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/tv-lists/classic-streaming-tv-shows
Overall, parents should really think hard about these data, and develop a systematic approach to monitoring and structuring their kids’ screen time. Resources like Common Sense Media can offer a variety of tools to support that.
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Monday, May 21st, 2012
In the rapid-fire world of the blogosphere, issues can have a half-life of, well, half a day. But some of the issues raised will stay with us for quite some time. Such is the case with the recent conversations about “oversharenting.” As noted by my fellow Parents.com blogger Jill Cordes in her recent blog post on the topic, it’s tough to generate parameters on this issue because it is a relatively new phenomenon – and to a degree something we are all shaping right now. So I was curious to get the perspective of someone who studies how to raise kids in a digital world. To that end, I had a chance to pose questions to an expert – James P. Steyer. Mr. Steyer is the author of the recently published Talking Back to Facebook: A Common Sense Guide to Parenting in the Digital Age (www.talkingbacktofacebook.com). He’s also the CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, the national nonprofit dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology (www.commonsense.org). Below you will find my each of my questions in bold, followed by Mr. Steyer’s response.
Should parents be wary about posting pictures and information about their kids on Facebook? What’s the downside? Are there precautions that could/should be taken?
Sharing information about your kids on social networks is something we’ve seen lots of parents doing. In some ways, it’s a fun way to connect friends and family with your kids’ lives as they grow up. But like we tell kids to “self-reflect before they self-reveal,” it’s equally as important for parents to follow that advice. Everything posted online creates what we call a “digital footprint” of your life. Once something is up, it can’t be taken down. And when parents start by sharing, for example, ultrasound images, they’re ensuring their kids have a digital footprint before they’ve even entered the world! And also, there can be a big difference between sharing moments of pride like your child’s first Little League home run, and sharing something more personal. My advice for families is to use your social networks’ ability to create small, closed networks inside the larger group (for example, Google+’s circles, or Facebook’s groups) that include only those people with whom you can share more private, intimate moments with – like grandparents, aunts, uncles. And then, still be very, very careful about what you share about other people, including your kids – partly because you don’t want to potentially embarrass your children, but also because anything you post online could eventually become public.
What about other public forums, like blogs? Any tips/concerns? Any reaction to things like the recent Time magazine breastfeeding cover?
The Time magazine cover is definitely something I think is sparking this conversation. A lot of people are saying, “How is that child going to feel about this picture when he’s 13?” Thanks to the permanence of the digital world, that photo will be both referenced and searchable for years to come. There is a huge possibility that this child will be upset that his mother used him to promote her own personal views on a topic he wasn’t old enough to understand or weigh in on. And that’s a lot of what this “oversharenting” comes down to: is it about YOU or is it about your kid? If you have any doubt about your motivations … hold out.
Should parents consider that they need to model behavior for their kids? Should they not only communicate the dangers of viral information to their kids but also set good examples with their own behavior?
Absolutely – without question. Parents are the biggest role models kids have when it comes to using digital media safely and wisely. That goes for every part of digital media – from what we’re posting to how often we’re using it. For example, you can’t expect your kid to respect a no-devices-at-dinner rule if you as a parent can’t separate yourself from your BlackBerry. The same goes for your behavior on social networks. It’s part of parenting in a digital world to make sure your kid understands the tenets of safe and appropriate online behavior, and that means parents have homework to do. Stay involved, know what your kid is doing, and always set the best example you can.
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