Talking to kids about advertising

Kids can’t always tell the difference between content and commercials, and the holidays mean more ads than ever. Here’s how to help.

“I need some Gatorade!”

The demand from Cindy Marie Jenkins’ five-year-old son caught her off guard since he’d never requested the drink before. When she asked why, his response was simple: “If I drink Gatorade, I'll be great at soccer!" Apparently he’d viewed an ad for the sports drink on YouTube, and—as kids tend to do—he took it at face value.

“Seeing commercials within his shows almost broke the fourth wall for him,” she says. “It took a few commercial breaks before his mind caught up with the faster editing and flashier style, and then he was enraptured.”

Advertising has evolved far beyond traditional TV commercials. Those “free shows” on YouTube usually come with multiple pop-up ads throughout the show. Influencers may or

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