It is useful with very young children to start by talking about the general concept of advertising. For the purposes of such a discussion, parents may want to clip and then refer to magazine or newspaper ads for starters. Show your child such a print ad and ask:
- What do you notice first when you look at this ad?
- What is pretty or ugly about this ad?
- What product is this ad for?
- How does that ad make you feel about the product?
- What questions should you ask before buying this product? (Encourage your child to seek more information than the ad contains. How is the product used? Does it work well? Do you really need this particular product? What other comparable products are available and at what cost?)
Let your child see how you weigh the relative merits of particular brands. Help your child in making similar decisions when it comes to even minor toys and entertainment purchases.
These discussions need not create cynics nor inevitably lead to the conclusion that all advertising is suspect. Instead, “reality checks” can foster responsible decision-making behaviour” in growing children.
Make it real for your child