- The game promises to bring up serious issues around protesting, concussions, arrests
- Take advantage of the topics as jumping-off points for conversation with your kids
For a fun family-and-friends event, the Super Bowl sure generates a lot of controversy: the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" of 2004, Tom Brady's deflate-gate, and that scary, depressing Nationwide Insurance "dead kid" ad that had parents all over the country covering their kids' eyes.
Taking a knee
- With younger kids, keep your explanation very simple by saying, "The national anthem is an important song to America. But some players don't feel that the song stands for all Americans. When the song plays, they kneel down so people will pay attention to those Americans who may be treated unfairly." If you want to add your feelings about the issue, just keep it to the point.
- Older kids will grasp the idea of protest -- and may have experimented with some of their own. You can engage them by asking their opinions about taking a knee. Is it disrespectful not to stand during the national anthem? Is it worth the backlash they're getting if sitting helps draw attention to their cause? If players -- who earn millions of dollars -- don't mind getting fined for sitting, is their protest still meaningful? What issues do you think are worth protesting for?
- Kids under 8 don't really understand that ads are trying to sell something -- and they're still young enough to care more about what you say than the TV. Consider using commercial time to do something active, such as jumping jacks or a run around the block. Say, "I don't like to watch junk food commercials. I use them to remind myself to eat healthy and take care of my body."
- Older kids will definitely be interested in candy, snack, and soda commercials, partly because they want to try them as soon as they're out of your sight. This isn't the day for a lecture them about healthy eating. Instead, get them to notice the tricks that advertisers use to make their product or brand seem cool. Colors, music, celebrities, humor, and even cues that hint at stuff that's popular with kids, such as YouTube and social media, are all used to influence people and get them to buy stuff.
- Younger kids may be attracted to the imagery in the commercials -- for example, the Clydesdale horses and puppies -- and even Bud Light's new viral catchphrase, "Dilly, dilly!" If you can't hit mute, try these steps to either divert their attention, decode the messages, or have a debate.
- Older kids will be watching your drinking behavior -- or, at least, absorbing it. Talk to them about how booze marketing is different from the marketing of other products; about persuasive techniques used by companies (including teen-boy attention-getters like skimpily clad women); and even why sporting events advertise beer (as it's clearly not a performance-enhancing substance).
- Hearing about people without basic needs for survival may make young kids sad. These types of ads are designed to tug at your heartstrings, and little kids could succumb. But the water.org commercial, as well as others promoting social issues during the Super Bowl, will either offer specific ways to help or prompt your family to research something further. Talk to kids about ways to do something -- either for Damon's charity or another one closer to home.
- Same goes with older kids who may relish taking on a political issue with a clear purpose that they can promote and follow on their social media. Once they delve into a social issue, they may discover there's a lot more to it than what is said in a 30-second commercial.
- It helps the message sink in with younger kids if you clearly state your appreciation of a strong woman on TV. Say, "Women make good leaders" or "I like seeing strong women on TV."
- Older kids may be interested in the spokespeople as cultural icons and may share with you what they know. You can discuss what each person is supposed to represent for the brands they're endorsing, and why. Haddish is a former foster child, Azalea is a successful artist, and Crawford, at age 52, is showing us that age is just a number. Ask, "Do you think these companies support female empowerment or not?" and "What things in a commercial convey power, and what detracts from it?"