UGent makes young people advertising wise via game

Ghent University launches the gaming platform reclamewijs.ugent.be, where young people are challenged to increase their advertising literacy. Young people learn more about online advertising through these games, and with a quiz they can test their advertising literacy. In September 2014, UGent started the development of a game platform to increase the advertising literacy of young people

Ghent University launches the gaming platform reclamewijs.ugent.be, where young people are challenged to increase their advertising literacy. Young people learn more about online advertising through these games, and with a quiz they can test their advertising literacy.

In September 2014, UGent started the development of a game platform to increase the advertising literacy of young people. Young people themselves and some representatives from the pedagogical, academic and advertising world participated in the concept.

The games teach young people to recognize advertising and to deal with it critically. For example, Count the Ads aims to mark as many advertising forms as possible: the game contains a challenging mix of striking formats such as banners, but also more difficult forms of advertising such as native advertising and sponsored blogs. In Profile Crush, the personal data that young people release via Facebook are processed in the game, to confront them with the large amount of personal data that they sometimes unconsciously reveal online.

Advertising is no longer limited to radio or TV commercials or billboards in the streets. The online world is also full of advertising messages. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recognize advertising. Examples are advergames, personalized advertising on social networking sites or sponsored blogs and video channels. Advertising messages are not only woven into (interactive) media content, but often new goals are also sought, such as collecting personal data and 'sharing' advertising.

Advertising whose commercial intention is not clear, however, can unintentionally influence children and young people, which can lead to impulsive and unnecessary purchases or child-parent conflicts, according to the researchers. Moreover, it appears that the current legal framework is no longer sufficient with regard to the way in which children and young people can be reached in the current digital media landscape.

Yet advertising is not negative, because advertising messages can help young people make informed choices. They should be better supervised according to the Belgian researchers.