Educational Intervention/case Study: Implementing an Elementary-Level, Classroom-Based Media Literacy Education Program for Academically At-Risk Middle-School Students in the Non-Classroom Setting

By Draper, Michele; Appregilio, Seymour et al. | Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education, August 2015 | Go to article overview

Educational Intervention/case Study: Implementing an Elementary-Level, Classroom-Based Media Literacy Education Program for Academically At-Risk Middle-School Students in the Non-Classroom Setting


Draper, Michele, Appregilio, Seymour, Kramer, Alaina, Ketcherside, Miranda, Campbell, Summer, Stewart, Brandon, Rhodes, Darson, Cox, Carol, Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education


ABSTRACT

Media literacy education teaches youth to critically examine the influence of media messages on health and substance use behavior. A small group of low-achieving middle school students at high risk for substance abuse attending an afterschool academic remediation program received a media literacy intervention intended for elementary students in a classroom setting. Participants significantly increased their: preferences for non-alcohol-related advertisements, ability to identify advertising techniques, media deconstruction skills, negative opinions about drinking and smoking behaviors, and significantly decreased their positive perceptions of cigarette and alcohol content in advertising. Results suggest that the Media Detective Program, an elementary-level, classroom-based intervention, can improve outcomes for at-risk middle school students in the afterschool setting.

INTRODUCTION

Youth, in the early stages of identity-formation, tend to try new behaviors based on what they observe around them. Their health behavior is influenced not only by their family and peers but also by electronic and non-electronic media (Johns Hopkins Children's Center, 2011) as exposure to media that encourages risky behaviors has been positively connected to risk-taking in youth (Fischer, Greitemeyer, Kastenmuller, Vogrincic, & Sauer, 2011). Although youth learn about substance abuse from others around them, their perceptions about underage alcohol and tobacco use, for example, are also independently influenced by the media (Scull, Kupersmidt, Parker, Elmore, & Benson, 2010). Youth learn about health from these media messages and images (Higgins & Begoray, 2012), and their behaviors, including substance abuse, can also be shaped by such messages (Strasburger, Jordan, & Dorrenstein, 2012).

When youth identify with media messages, they are more likely to use substances and intend to use substances in the future (Scull et al., 2010) as the relationship seems to be dose-response (Johns Hopkins Children's Center, 2011). Tobacco marketing and promotion, especially for those youth who are very susceptible to advertising, increases the likelihood that they would move from just trying tobacco products to regular use (American Lung Association, 2014). The US Surgeon General also states that tobacco advertising and promotional messages contribute to youth tobacco initiation (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2012).

For alcohol use, the amount of mass media exposure and degree of alcohol marketing expenditure positively increases youth alcohol consumption rates (Snyder, Milici, Slater, Sun, & Strizhakova, 2006). Alcoholic beverage companies have strategically positioned their advertisements in youth-oriented media (Jernigan, Ostroff, & Ross, 2005), especially in television programs (Jemigan, Ross, Ostroff, McKnight, & Brewer, 2013). Youth exposure to alcohol advertising on cable television, too, has markedly increased (Jemigan et al., 2013). Overall, exposure to alcohol advertising in the media as well as through in-store promotions and branded merchandise shapes pro-alcohol perceptions and increases the chances that youth will start to use alcohol (Jernigan et al., 2013; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2007).

Youth are repeatedly exposed to high amounts of media and participate at high levels in media-related activities where pro-alcohol and pro-tobacco messages are pervasive. To successfully navigate a culture permeated with these types of media messages, youth need media literacy skills. Media literacy skills include the ability to process, decode, evaluate, and produce media messages in order to make more informed consumer choices (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2003; National Association for Media Literacy Education, n.d). Most importantly, youth need the media literacy skill of deconstruction or in-depth analysis of how the message was put together in order to expose the point of view of the message creator (Media Literacy Project, n. …

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