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Parents' Top Back to School Tech Questions

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Back-to-school shopping has gotten so commercial. How do I avoid ad overload?

Teaching your kids to view ads critically can help you survive back-to-school shopping with your wits — and wallet — intact.

Question: Back-to-school advertising started in my town in June! How do I make sure my family doesn't get sucked into this particular marketing moment?

Answer: According to the National Retail Federation, the back-to-school season is the second biggest "consumer spending event" of the year (behind the winter holidays). The group estimates that most families will spend $688.62 on kids in grades K-12. So, yeah, there's a lot of pressure to separate families from their money this time of year.

You may be able to avoid the hard sell at brick-and-mortar stores by shopping online. But that won't solve the problem of your kids getting targeted with back-to-school buying messages through websites, online games, Facebook updates, and even YouTube.

Plus, social shopping — where kids spread the message about their favorite products to other kids online — is gaining momentum with marketers.

Help your kids learn to recognize — and avoid clicking on — these types of promotions. If they're interested in a product, challenge them to comparison shop and list the pros and cons of an item. Help them figure out what they really need — as opposed to what they want (and may get tired of soon).

Beyond that, nurture a healthy sense of skepticism — what we call "ad savvy" — so your kids learn to view media critically. —Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media (Photo: iStock)

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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