Want to become a Social Star? A learning resource about hidden commercials on blogs

  • Awareness
  • 26/05/2016
  • Danish Safer Internet Centre
Commercials can be a tricky thing. Most of us are able to spot that a company wants us to buy their products when we watch their commercials, but what if the ad is hidden as a flattering recommendation? Social Star, an online learning resource, is about hidden commercials on blogs.
The Danish Competition and Consumer Authority, the publishing house Clio and the Danish Media Council for Children & Young People teamed up to help to empower children and young people regarding their understanding of hidden commercials online. The outcome is a digital learning resource named 'Social Star'.
It is a well-documented fact that children and young people are heavy users of digital technologies; they spend many hours a week on a variety of social media platforms and companies know that. Commercial marketing is therefore increasingly present on social media but children, especially, sometimes have difficulties figuring out what is marketing and what is just a flattering mentioning of a specific product. To be media literate, children and youth not only need to know how to navigate the internet, but they also need to learn to be source critical. 'Social Star' seeks to educate children and young people on this aspect.
There are two major reasons for making this resource online available. One is that it is related to children and young peoples' online lives; two is the fact that Danish schools have included online teaching resources in their teachers' toolbox on a large scale. In Denmark, there is an enormous increase in online learning resources closely related to the fact that there is a huge presence of online devices not only in households but also in schools. 
Social Star targets pupils in 5th to 7th grade. The material enables discussions with and between pupils regarding ethical aspects and problems of commercial communication. The pupils learn how to produce their own commercial communication online, to research and identify different forms of commercial communication and, finally, they learn how to analyse what works and what doesn't on social media.
Included in the online learning resource is a teacher's guide, teaching material and several videos. Two of the videos target the bigger picture of understanding commercial information online. One video shows that the internet is in fact tailored to suit you and how the digital footprints we all leave when surfing the net are a key factor in your search results. A further video demonstrates how commercials in blogs work.
The entire material is completely free to use and has already been accessed by more than 5,000 times since its launch in spring of 2015.
To access the resource, visit the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) gallery of resources.
To find out more about the work of the Danish Safer Internet Centre, visit their profile page.

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