top secret messages letters to college kidsDear Kid,

I don’t know whether to be fascinated or horrified. Or perhaps a little bit of both.

Have you seen the child abuse ad that displays differently depending on how tall (or short) you are? The idea is to get a message to children being abused even if their abuser is standing right next to them. This is done with (get this) a lenticular top layer which shows different parts of images at various angles. Look straight ahead, see the standard message; look up from a child’s vantage point, see bruises and cuts and a phone number to call for help.

(Between this info and the invisibility cloak info from yesterday, I am turning into a real science hound, am I not?)

IMHO, this is wicked cool technology. But as others have pointed out: don’t you think the abusers might be on the internet and might have noticed all the commotion? Don’t get me wrong—anything anyone can do to help a child, especially an abused child, is all to the good. But there might be a dark side to the technology.

Back In The Day when I was in school (yes, Ray of Click and Clack fame was my marketing professor—different story for a different day), we spent a lot of time talking about subliminal messaging (which I’m pretty sure is mostly illegal in advertising these days). But Back Then, soda manufacturers would put an image of a soda or someone drinking a soft drink in the previews before a movie. It would be just one frame and go by so quickly your conscious mind would never see it. But the unconscious mind (ho, ho!) was another story entirely. Drink sales skyrocketed. There are lots more examples. Of course, the ones I remember are mostly not appropriate for polite conversation.

The point (and yes, my dear, there is a point) is what happens when advertisers figure out they can talk to children without mom interpreting knowing what the kid is seeing interfering. As a parent, I think it is part of my job description to help kids (especially small ones in the throws of ‘gimme!’) understand what is and is not appropriate at any given point in time. It helps if I have a clue what they are talking about.

On the other hand, there might be some extremely cool uses for this lenticular top layer technology. What if you could show one message to the student section of a football stadium but not to anyone else? Or one message to people going up the stairs to a given landing and another to those going down? I don’t yet know what the point would be, but it sounds cool.

Beware of messages, Kid. You can’t always be sure you know what they’re telling you. What you can be sure of is that I love you.

Love, Mom