The Federal Trade Commission has opened new areas of a “virtual mall” with content that will help kids learn to protect their privacy, spot frauds and scams, and avoid identity theft. The FTC Web site, www.ftc.gov/YouAreHere, introduces key consumer and business concepts and helps youngsters understand their role in the marketplace. The FTC is the nation’s consumer protection agency.
“YouAreHere presents practical lessons about money and business in a fun and familiar setting,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The new content takes kids behind the scenes to raise their awareness of advertising and marketing, pricing and competition, fraud and identity theft.
At the FTC’s online mall, visitors play games, watch short animated films, and interact with customers and store owners. They can design and print advertisements for a shoe store, investigate suspicious claims in ads and sales pitches, learn to identify the catches behind bogus modeling schemes and vacation offers, and guess the retail prices of various candies based on their supply, demand, and production costs.
At the Security Plaza, visitors can build a social networking page and see the unintended consequences of posting personal information. They also get tips on how to keep their computers safe while they’re online. In the arcade, visitors can play Info Defender 3 and protect Earthlings from Cyclorian invaders who would steal their identities. The game teaches the importance of protecting personal information, including Social Security numbers.
For parents and teachers, the site offers detailed fact sheets with ideas for related activities. Teachers can use the site to complement lessons in consumer economics, government, social studies, language arts, and critical thinking. The National Council for Economic Education has developed a lesson plan that prominently features YouAreHere; it is available on the Parents and Teachers page.