This topic is so much of a daily battle in my house with four sons – ages 10, 14, 18, and 20 – who love YouTube and online gaming sites. My belief is that you can raise kids to think for themselves and shake this stuff off, but it’s a constant struggle to stay vigilant against the marketing push.
I have been following the video series with Anna Lappé called Food MythBusters by watchdog group Corporate Accountability International, because the tactics and science behind them are really helpful.
The advertising that goes uncounted, and which can be the most insidious and difficult to battle, is the newer practice of engaging a child’s creativity as a participant in the ad cycle. This includes the contests challenging kids to design an ad for the product themselves, or in the case of the Super Bowl, to vote for which ad will air during the game.
The website Armor Games sucks kids right into this process, via the Doritos "Crash The Super Bowl" contest, in which five fans have a shot at having their commercial play during the game.
The top item on the Armor Games site is an ad bearing the image of a little boy in a cowboy hat next to the words, “Help us win the Doritos contest. VOTE for Cowboy Kid!”
Of the five finalists’ videos, two have kids as the main characters