FCCA involved in the Media Literacy Week: recognising a subscription trap is an important skill for everyone

The Media Literacy Week, focusing on media education, will be held between 5 and 11 February 2018. The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA), whose tasks include promoting and implementing consumer education, has drawn up Media Literacy Week material for consumers and teachers with a theme “On a purchase path in the media”. The materials address particularly the issue of how to recognise subscription traps online. The FCCA materials are available for teachers in basic education and libraries, for example. Consumers can take an online quiz to test how well they can recognise subscription traps.

Multiliteracy and information acquisition are very useful skills for consumers. Often, people think that subscription traps and scams are problems encountered by gullible people only. This is not the case. The methods used in scams are developing rapidly alongside digitisation, and it may be difficult for anyone to detect a subscription trap.

Nowadays, consumers may get caught in subscription traps primarily via an advertisement on Facebook or elsewhere online, or an email message sent to them. By subscription trap we refer to a situation in which consumers end up subscribing to something on the basis of an advertisement or message without understanding that they are making a subscription. They may have been misled by an offer.

Test your own skills!

Every consumer should have the readiness to recognise typical scams, such as subscription traps, and to distinguish marketing from other content in social media and online.

Consumers and pupils can test whether they recognise a scam. For this purpose, we have drawn up an online quiz, which people can take to test whether they can tell what is advertising and what kind of offers they should or shouldn’t take. In addition, we have drawn up an illustrative image of a typical subscription trap, which pupils can view on screen during lessons or that can be printed out and posted on the wall. The image/poster has been sent for the information of libraries as well, and they can print it out and post it, for example, near the computers for customer use.

The poster and the quiz can be found at the address kkv.fi/mediataitoviikko (in Finnish and Swedish).

New exercises for use in basic education

In consumer education, pupils are given guidance on how to follow current issues, and to understanding the connection between them and their own lives. The information acquisition skills are based on people’s ability to acquire reliable information and to recognise which sources of information are reliable. The key is learning how to apply all the information acquired.

This year, for the teaching of information acquisition during the Media Literacy Week the FCCA provides exercises where subscription traps can be used as an example. Young people may be trapped by such baits as ‘two-euro smartphones’ and designer clothing offered at particularly low prices.

In teaching, pupils can be given an introduction to information acquisition skills, and exercises related to subscription traps can be linked with the teaching in source criticism. Teachers can discuss with their pupils about such topics as what is a subscription trap and what kind of offers pupils have encountered online. Teachers and pupils can together search the web for topical examples.

Exercises and ideas for teachers for the Media Literacy Week 2018 can be found on the FCCA website (in Finnish and Swedish).

The Media Literacy Week is a theme week in media education, aimed at developing the media skills of children and young people, and enhancing the readiness for media education among adults. During the week, schools, libraries, day care centres, youth clubs, different societies and hobby groups discuss different themes and questions related to various media phenomena together with children, young people and adults. The Media Literacy Week is planned and implemented in collaboration with more than 40 national organisations, and it is coordinated by the National Audiovisual Institute.

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