FTC Online Mall Teaches Tweens About Online Privacy, Scammers

This month, the Federal Trade Commission unveiled You Are Here, a virtual mall where kids can learn to avoid online scams, spot misleading ads, and learn good habits to be smart consumers.

From the FTC’s release:

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.

Some areas of the site are a little too goofy and light on detail, like the fake Nigerian scammer arcade game (which was fun but not very educational). Other parts were very informative; the food court has a conversation about the advantages and disadvantages of an ice cream chain merger (pros: bigger market share means stronger purchasing power with the supplier which are passed on as lower prices; cons: with no one around to compete with the chain, why should they bother lowering prices?), and the FTC’s role in policing really big mergers (like this one).

If you have pre-teen children and want them to learn some good habits and get informed about targeted marketing, data theft, and basic economics, this is a useful site.

You Are Here [FTC]