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Don't Buy It: Guide for Teachers
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Are You Plugged In?

Extension Activity

These classroom activities correspond to the Don't Buy It game, Are You Plugged In? at

How much time do students spend watching TV, surfing the Web, or playing video games? What products do students consume? Is the advertising targeting students also influencing them?


  • Develop an awareness of one's own media habits.
  • Make connections between ads and one's own consumer behavior.



Ask students to track their current TV and/or Internet viewing habits and video game time by keeping a TV Diary for one week using the blank diary sheets provided. They should track program name, time spent watching, and then rate the program. In a letter, let parents know that children will be participating in the media journal homework activity and ask them to assist their children in keeping the journal (See sample Parent Letter).

  • How many hours is the TV on in a given day?
  • What do you like most about TV?
  • What do you dislike about TV?
  • When did you watch TV the most?
  • Did you do other activities while watching TV?
  • Did you channel surf?
  • Did you use television as background noise?
  • How did you feel after watching TV?
  • Did you have many highly rated shows? Low-rated shows?

Ask students to pick one of the shows they watched during the week and consider the following as media consumers:

  • Who is creating this message?
  • What is their purpose in creating this message?
  • What is the message?
  • What other messages might different people take away from this?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What techniques are used to gain or retain my attention?

After completing the media journal, have students compare and contrast media habits in the classroom and discuss the questions above.

Consumer Influence: Television is loaded with advertising, in commercials as well as more hidden product placements. Do these advertisements affect purchasing decisions?

  • What items were advertised during the student's television viewing activity?
  • Have they bought products (or asked others to buy products for them) advertised on the TV?
  • What factors motivate them to purchase a particular product?


  • McREL Media Standards
    Viewing Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media. Level 2 (Grade 3-5)
    BENCHMARK: Understands basic elements of advertising in visual media (e.g., sales approaches and techniques aimed at children, appealing elements used in memorable commercials, possible reasons for the choice of specific visual images).
    BENCHMARK VOCABULARY: advertising, visual media, sales approach, technique, children, appeal, element, commercial, visual image.


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