Most kids are now taught print-media literacy as part of the English curriculum. They can, for example, distinguish between editorial, advertorial and advert.

But what about on the internet, a medium far more important to most school students? This Pew Report and associated Wired article (thanks Stephen for the reference) suggests that very few people can actually distinguish between paid and unpaid (i.e. advertising) listings in a search engine.

So here’s my challenge: how many of your students can recognise the following, and understand the way in which someone is trying to influence them?

  • Paid vs. unpaid listings in search engines
  • Pop-up pages
  • Pop-under pages
  • 419-scam email (the infamous Nigerian con)
  • Affiliate links (if you buy the linked/recommended product, the referrer gets a commission)
  • Traded links (the website owner was paid to put the link there)


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