Media Literacy is Helping Teens Combat Pro-Smoking Messages | Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Media Literacy is Helping Teens Combat Pro-Smoking Messages

Reuters Health just published a story about media literacy as a method to combat the subtle pro-smoking messages in movies and other media focused on the research by Dr. Brian A. Primack and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh.

It is a sad truth that more than 4,000 teenagers begin smoking each day and those exposed to tobacco ads, as well as those who had parents, siblings, or friends that smoked were more likely to be current smokers than were their peers.

One possible way to counter that trend appears to be increasing media literacy - teaching teens how to understand, analyze and evaluate messages from the media, including advertising.

In the current study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers analyzed responses from 1,211 high school students to a survey that assessed the students' current smoking, potential future smoking and the extent to which they agreed that advertisements usually leave out some important information.

Of those 1,211 students, 19% were current smokers and 40% were categorized as susceptible to start smoking. Students with higher smoking media literacy, higher grades, and those who were more aware about the addictiveness of smoking were less likely to be current smokers or to be considered susceptible to future smoking than were their peers.

What's more, the research suggests that increasing media literacy among adolescents may also have an affect on other health behaviors, including eating behavior, aggression, sexual behavior, and alcohol use.

Photo credit: de.ef.ha
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.