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How can I teach my kid to recognize advertisements?

Advertising is omnipresent, from games and search engines to apps and social media. Think of it as a vast candy section in a supermarket; the online world is similarly filled with temptations. Research indicates that children are aware that advertising exists but lack of the critical skills to handle its content. They have yet to become savvy about advertising! 

25 May 2023

As a result, there are specific legislations for advertisements aimed at children. However, if your child goes online on platforms that require them to be at least 13 years old, they may bypass this legislation, however, not everything has been adequately regulated by law, and not everyone adheres to existing regulations. Therefore, it is crucial to assist your children, much like you would in a supermarket.

Here are some tips to help your child recognize advertising:


  • Nothing is truly free

Even if an app or game appears free, it comes at a cost. You may not pay with money, but with your personal data. The information you provide during installation is sold or used to market other products to you. For instance, Instagram is free, but you see ads in your feed because advertisers know your interests based on tracked data. Make sure to be aware of this when installing certain apps and discuss this type of payment with your child.


  • Install an ad-blocker

A fundamental rule is to install an ad-blocker, which prevents numerous advertisements and tracking options. You can adjust browser settings to block pop-ups by clicking on the top-right corner of the web page, or you can purchase a separate ad-blocker.

  • Familiarize yourself with advertising formats

By understanding various advertising formats, you can better identify them. All forms of advertising aim to persuade you to buy a particular product.

1. Advergame: These are free games associated with specific brands. You can recognize them because the brand is always prominently featured in the game.

2. Banner: Often located at the top or side of a web page, banners closely resemble newspaper or magazine advertisements. You can directly click on them, leading you to the brand’s webpage. These ads may be targeted at you based on your browsing behavior. For example, if you recently searched for a particular pair of shoes, you may later receive an advertisement for that shoe brand on another website.

3. Product placement: In videos or games, you may suddenly encounter a specific soft drink or product.

4. Search engine: Companies pay Google to appear at the top of search results. You can identify this through the presence of the word “advertisement” in the search result. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best result for your search.

5. Social media: There are two distinct types:

Sponsored posts from brands or individuals you don’t follow. These posts reach you based on your data, such as your age or browsing behaviour.

Influencers you follow may share content that is paid for by a brand or they may be attending events sponsored by a brand. Larger influencers are required to disclose this by using tags like #ad in their posts. However, this practice isn’t always followed consistently, and smaller influencers can still engage in covert advertising that can influence their audience.

6. YouTube: Advertising is pervasive on YouTube, appearing in search results, suggested video lists, and before watching a video.

7. Native ads: These are often articles or videos that blend seamlessly with a website’s content. However, they are labeled as advertorials or sponsored, indicating that they are paid for by a brand.

8. Affiliate marketing: It involves sharing a link that allows you to directly make a purchase. Keep in mind that the person sharing the link often receives a percentage of the sale as compensation.

  • Analyze the content

Often, it is quite evident when advertising is involved. Products are prominently featured, someone expresses high praise for them, and convenient links are provided for easy access. Engage in discussions with your child about these types of advertisements, enabling them to recognize them and comprehend why information is shared in this manner. It’s important to note that advertising isn’t inherently bad, but it frequently presents a distorted view of reality. Strive to find a balance together!

If you have a complaint about an advertisement, you can report it to your local advertisment committee.

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