Media Literacy

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

Alcohol

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).

Tobacco

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).

References

Strategy Description

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2003). Designing and Implementing an Effective Tobacco Counter-Marketing Campaign. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.

Evidence Base

Bergsma, L.J., & Carney, M.E. (2008). Effectiveness of health-promoting media literacy education: A systematic review. Health Education Research, 23(3), 522-542.

Jeong, S.H., Cho, H., & Hwang, Y. (2012). Media literacy interventions: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Communication, 32, 454-472.

Pinkleton, B.E., Austin, E.W., Cohen, M., Miller, A., & Fitzgerald, E. (2007). A statewide evaluation of the effectiveness of media literacy training to prevent tobacco use among adolescents. Health Communication, 21(1), 23-34.

Primack, B.A., Gold, M.A., Land, S.R., & Fine, M.J. (2006). Association of cigarette smoking and media literacy about smoking among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 39, 465-472.

Primack, B.A., Sidani, J., Carrol, M.V., & Fine, M.J. (2009). Associations between smoking and media literacy in college students. Journal of Health Communication, 14, 541-555.

Weintraub Austin, E., & Johnson, K.K. (1997). Effects of general and alcohol-specific media literacy training on children’s decision making about alcohol. Journal of Health Communication, 2, 17-42.

Futher Reading

Center for Media Literacy.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2003). Designing and Implementing an Effective Tobacco Counter-Marketing Campaign. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.

MediaSharp: Analyzing tobacco and alcohol messages, Leader’s guide. (n.d.). The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; The Office on Smoking and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; The American Academy of Pediatrics; and National Education Association Health Information Network.

Weintraub Austin, E., & Johnson, K.K. (1997). Effects of general and alcohol-specific media literacy training on children’s decision making about alcohol. Journal of Health Communication, 2, 17-42.