Making sense of ads

Children and parents can watch or tape television commercials together.

S.C. Department of Education consultant Frank W. Baker recommends families ask and answer the following questions as they watch ads. The questions were excerpted from David Walsh's book, "Dr. Dave's Cyberhood," Baker said. Walsh is part of the National Institute for Media and the Family, headquartered in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

• Does the toy seem bigger on TV?

• Is the commercial's setting a home or a made-up environment?

• Do the sounds the toy makes sound different on TV?

• Is there exciting background music you don't have at home?

• Is the toy pictured alone or grouped with other toys or add-on equipment?

• Can you play at home with the toy the same way it is handled in the ad?

• Are you as happy playing with the toy at home as the children in the ad are?

• Is the price of the toy mentioned?