Video Game Playing Advertising Strategies- Buyer Beware!

Easy to Use
Immerse Education Tool
Limitless Imagination Opportunity
Teaches Digital Citizenship
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These powerful words and phrases are used to capture the eye of students and parents, and make them feel that they are learning something as they play the innocent looking games found on the internet for FREE. 

Just like other advertising strategies designed solely to capture our dollars, video games may appear to want to offer educational value, when in reality, many of their creators have ulterior motive. "Show them the money."Believe it or not, video game companies are in competition to capture a new market, the under 13 group. They want to hook the children when they are too immature to understand what is really going on. According to Dr. Kardaras, "In the 1990's, Intel competed with other companies in the "war of the eyeballs." It was a fierce competition to capture the attention of kids and thus create the most hypnotic and addicting products that they could sell." They were successful and now the internet is like the wild wild west, with the war continuing between many game makers. The manufactures and creators of online games have no laws to stop them from deceiving children, so without conscience, they are going after the under 13's. 

I am aware there are many helpful tools on the internet, however, in the beginning many of these so called "educational" games look innocent, leaving parents with a false impression.  They believe it is safe for their children. But as I have discovered, it is anything but educational, but a platform for bullying a child into spending money.  

I have discovered several children playing the same game without their parents ever knowing. There is no parental permission necessary to play in any age group. All that is necessary is to click the "yes" button when asked if they are 18 and above. 

I was curious about the game several children I know are playing. I also wanted to speak from a perspective of a user, so I tried playing a very popular game for children under 13 years of age. I found no educational value other than the children go to a pretend school where players are encouraged to pay for passes, so they don't have to take the classes. 

I didn't find any digital citizenship, but I did find bullying on the first screen. The texting was rude and appeared to be designed to encourage purchases with internet currency before the character was even in the game. When my character starting following a character on skates, someone in the game made sure I knew the character was poor. "They are a noob." It sounded like something bad. 

There was little imagination employed as the players were provided with everything they could use. There was no creativity other than deciding whether I wanted to change the look of my character's clothing or the look of my living room. 

FREE was used several times in the game. FREE clothes, but the clothes I liked cost $300 internet dollars, which cost $25 for $400 internet money. Of course, they baited me by telling me I earned $160 internet dollars, but the things I wanted cost a lot more than that. 

It wasn't long before I was being told that my clothes were out of date and I didn't fit in with their group. This was all done via text by people I did not know, nor could I see what they looked like in person. 

I became interested in learning more about the game when I was told about a third grader who was having an anxiety attack as a result of playing the game. She was having nightmares, because her online friends who had been nice to her in the beginning began bullying her, and she felt she had to buy new clothing to change her identity. When she was told she couldn't play anymore, her response was, "But I can still text, right?" She could not break away from the game. She is only eight years old. 

These FREE educational games, are nothing more than a gateway to social media addiction long before the children have the emotional and mental maturity to cope with it. 

I believe every game should provide a disclaimer: "These games could be the gateway drug for young children. Beware: Your children may be exposed to cyper-bullying, dopamine addiction, Las Vegas style gambling. They may experience fits of anger, hyper-activity, sleep-deprivation, an inability to understand empathy, depression, and anxiety and panic attacks,"   



According to Dr. Karadiams, in his book Glow-Kids, there are positive benefits of using technology, but there are also negative impacts on the developing brain. I highly recommend his book for all parents newborns to teens. 

Cereal Manufacturers are pushing internet games as well. 

Even food manufacturers are capturing your child's attention by their "Check out our website for FREE games," on every cereal manufactured today. According to research, these offers on cereal boxes. had the most hits getting 387,000 children to use its site each month. The usual time frame that kids spend on these kind of sites are averaged at 24-minutes per child. But again, parents aren't even aware. How could a game from a cereal box be bad for them? 

The attraction to video games is everywhere. So, no matter how you try to monitor your child's technology use, they are still being exposed to advertising that is targeting them.

I'm a realist. I may not like it, but it's the future. So instead of controlling the tech, we need to teach the children what to be aware of and how to respond to attempts to lure them in. That is my mission.

As I play the game, I will report what I am seeing, and share how I would help a child deal with the cyber-bullying they are experiencing. Please have these conversations with your children. 

We train our children for a fire, earthquake, or if a stranger approaches them. We should train our children how to recognize and what to say to those who are manipulating them through games. 


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