FTC Releases a Game to Educate Kids about Online Advertising

Google’s public policy blog had a post pointing to an educational game and site released by the FTC, AdMongo. Judging by the intro video and a quick perusal of the site, it looks like it is targeted at early teenagers and is pretty slickly produced. The idea of using games and other interactive content to try to improve the how savvy kids are about complex issues is certainly not new. This made me think about Smokescreen the game commissioned by Cory Doctoro’s wife, Alice.

I have to wonder if this is a topic that needs this kind of effort, though. By comparison, privacy is tricky, full of tons of counter intuitions that even social scientists and researchers have trouble fully unpacking. I’d be willing to bet that mass media has already prepared kids fairly well to spot advertising in its most common forms, even online. I also don’t think the risks are as great to young users outside of where advertising practices step into more fraught areas, like privacy.

Don’t get me wrong, more education is invariably better, my concern is just one of targeting. I think the resources spent on AdMongo would better serve other areas is all, as kicky and fun as it looks. (Having trouble getting past the intro video with the craptastic version of Flash on my Linux box.)

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