• <More on Intel.com

Media Messages

The effects of advertising

Unit Summary

Students are bombarded with many forms of media. This unit encourages students to become more critical consumers of the information they encounter on a daily basis. They look closely at various forms of advertising and analyze it for purpose and effect. Students then use the Showing Evidence Tool to dig deeper into the question of advertising aimed at children, and debate the issue as a class.


Curriculum-Framing Questions

  • Essential Question
    Is seeing believing?
  • Unit Questions
    How can we become critical consumers of information?
    How does the media shape our view of the world and ourselves?
    What patterns or themes do we see in advertisements?
  • Content Questions
    What is media literacy?
    What is the purpose of advertising?



Students view examples of different advertisements from magazines and participate in a whole-class discussion of the Essential Question: Is seeing believing?

Students follow the initial discussion by brainstorming about different forms of media. Next, students complete a media diary where they keep a record of their families' media consumption for one week. They graph the amount of time spent using different media and note any patterns of representation they see in certain types of media. As an extension, students can research and compare media consumption in their country to media consumption in other countries. The teacher leads a discussion around the idea of media literacy. Students work together to define the term and begin exploring the idea of why it is important to become critical consumers of information.

The teacher walks students through the core concepts and key questions from the Media Lit Kit* (PDF; 27 pages). Students look closer at different forms of advertising as the class analyzes a print ad together, using the key questions as a guide. To further explore different forms of advertising, students work in groups of four and circulate among the following stations:

  • TV/VCR playing a commercial
  • Teen magazines
  • Variety of newspapers
  • Print ads
  • Computer with a commercial
  • Web site
  • Pictures of billboards
  • Catalogs Transcripts of radio ads

Within the groups, students take on roles—recorder, presenter, observer, and facilitator. The facilitator uses the key questions to guide discussion within the group. The recorder writes down ideas, thoughts, and questions that surface while exploring each form of media. The observer watches the dynamics of the group and gives a brief report on how the group functioned. After students finish with the stations, the presenter reports out the group’s findings.

As a class, students discuss the purpose of advertising and any patterns or themes they noticed while exploring the various forms of advertisements. The teacher closes the activity by having students consider the question: How does the media shape our view of the world and ourselves? Students write their thoughts about the question in a journal, and the teacher leads a whole-class discussion of the topic.

To dig deeper into the idea of advertising and its effect on children, student teams use the Showing Evidence Tool to take a position on the question: Should there be a ban on advertisements aimed at children? Students gather evidence from multiple sources to support their position. They prepare a slideshow presentation to communicate their view to the class. Students get assigned to new teams based on their position, and the teams formally debate the issue.


Examine the Showing Evidence Activity

The Showing Evidence Tool space below represents one team's investigation in this project. You can double-click on the evidence to read the team's descriptions.

Project Name: The Effects of Advertising (Click here to set up this project in your workspace)

Prompt: Should there be a ban on advertisements aimed at children?

Explore an interactive demo.

The Effects of Advertising
Media Messages

At a Glance

Grade Level: 6-8

Subjects: Language Arts, Media Studies

Key Learnings: Analyzing Advertisements, Identity

Time Needed: Eight class periods, 45-minute lessons