Description of Strategy
Media literacy helps people ask questions about what they watch, see, hear, and read. It helps them critically assess how the mass media normalize, glamorize, and create role models for unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors, such as smoking. Media literacy involves examining the techniques, technologies, and institutions involved in media production; critically analyzing media messages; and recognizing the role that audiences play in attaching a meaning to those messages. The idea is that teaching people to recognize how a message tries to influence them will lessen the impact of that message. On a broader level, media literacy can be viewed as a form of protection or “inoculation” against unhealthy behaviors shown in the media (CDC, 2003).
Discussion of Effectiveness
Evidence of effectiveness suggests that media literacy is an effective strategy for alcohol-related behaviors (Jeong, Cho, & Hwang, 2012). Media literacy programs were found to increase critical analysis of media materials about alcohol among youth (Kupersmidt, Scull, & Benson, 2012).
Evidence suggests media literacy is associated with increased reflective thinking concerning media messaging and reduced smoking among teenage and college populations (Jeong, Cho, & Hwang, 2012; Pinkleton, Austin, Cohen, Miller, & Fitzgerald, 2007; Primack, Gold, Land, & Fine, 2006; Primack, Sidani, Carrol, & Fine, 2009).
Prescription & Other Drugs
Evidence also suggests media literacy is an effective strategy for other drugs (Jeong, Cho, & Hwang, 2012).