In this module students investigate the accuracy of product information and advertising about cell phones and cell phone apps and explore false or misleading advertising.

Learning outcomes:

  • Students will explore the values and conventions of consumer spending and protection in the wider school community.
  • Students will examine the roles of financial literacy and sound financial decisions in their own lives.

Key concepts:

  • Market
  • Choices
  • Financial decision making

Conceptual understandings:

  • Financial decision-making is influenced by local and global markets and advertising and affects the community.
  • Consumer protection laws and regulations cover goods and services purchased in New Zealand.

Word wall

Subject-specific vocabulary in module 3 includes:

Te reo Pākēha Te reo Māori
the principle of transparency te mātāpono noho haepapa
advertising whakatairanga
true pono
untrue teka
mislead whakatuapeka

1. Sussing out information

Have students research the information that is available about cell phones with the purpose of choosing a cell phone to buy. The research can be conducted as a class or group activity or students can undertake their research individually.

Starter questions:

  • What kinds of information do we want to know about mobile phones and plans?
  • Where will we find this information? Who should we listen to, talk to, or read to get information about mobile phones and plans?
  • What criteria will we use to make our decision about which phone to buy?

Have students suppose that that a friend or family member has recently moved to New Zealand and would like some advice about phones and plans. Students can then use online store websites to examine:

  • how information about cell phones is presented by retailers
  • the amount of information presented to help consumers make a choice of cell phones
  • any information that would be useful but is not included in websites
  • the sites that provide the most information and the sites that provide the least
  • the validity of the information provided. How do we know the information is accurate?

2. Asking experts

Talk to an expert to find out more information. Visit, skype, or invite into your class, experts from:

  • a large, international telco
  • a smaller New Zealand-owned, telecommunications company
  • Consumer New Zealand
  • The Broadcasting Standards Authority
  • a large advertising agency or an advertisers’ association
  • a merchandiser or buyer from a large store that stocks a variety of cell phone brands.

The students can write interview question about:

  • how to read the truth in advertising
  • the pitfalls in purchasing a mobile phone and how to avoid them
  • the amount of research consumers should do before purchasing a cell phone
  • their practices in cases of damaged or misplaced goods
  • scenarios about consumer protection that their company has had to deal with
  • the best way to handle a problem.

3. Checking advertising

Collect a range of print and digital cell-phone advertisements. Take photos of displays and in store advertising.

Link to English

View several digital or television advertisements to examine:

  • the target audience – who is the advertisement trying to reach? How can you tell?
  • the descriptive language used – what words or phrases are used to describe the phone?
  • the persuasive language – what on-screen words are enticing and attention grabbing?
  • any special effects – does the advertisement use animation, lighting, or sound to make the phone more appealing?
  • any deceptive content – does the advertisement mislead viewers or leave out important information?

Have students in pairs collect 3 print advertisements and decide WHO says WHAT to WHOM and HOW to explain the process of persuasion in each advertisement. Create a table to compare the results.

4. Debating the issues

Students can examine the wider societal context of consumer protection, either through traditional debates, or using a backchannel tool.

Topics for discussion:

  • Why do we need to have laws that protect consumers and businesses?
  • How can businesses follow the Māori principle of puawaitanga – the principle of best outcomes?

home learningHome learning: This American site link) , produced by the Federal Trade Commission, has been created to support consumers to think critically about advertisements. Prompt the students to view this site with their families and whanau to reinforce classroom learning and stimulate discussion.

Links to Te Reo Māori and Tikanga Māori

First smartphone with Te Reo Operating System(external link)

Read this article and critically evaluate the usefulness of this system. How could an operating system like this influence changes in New Zealand society?
One of the major shareholders of 2degrees is Hautaki, an iwi-run investment firm. Students can investigate how Hautaki has influenced 2degrees' ways of working.