Logic to the rescue


Photo by Erik Dungan

In July we wrote in The noise of summer about the importance of teaching media literacy to help children grow into responsible adults. A new study published in the journal Pediatrics finds evidence that children do indeed respond to media literacy education.

From Science Daily: “The study, based on the research of Erica Weintraub Austin, director of the Murrow Center for Media and Health Promotion at Washington State University, reveals that a brief, two-week course boosted the critical thinking skills of third through fifth graders and reduced their intentions to use alcohol and tobacco while increasing their belief that they will be able to resist them.”

In the study, 344 children received a two-week Media Detective program, and 335 children did not. Media Detective is a 10-lesson program developed on the “message interpretation processing model,” which says, basically, that we process information through both logical and emotional filters. The goal of the program was to help students develop the critical thinking skills to decode media messages and decide to avoid tobacco and alcohol products. Students who went through the program “showed less interest in alcohol-branded merchandise” and “reported significantly less intention to use and a greater ability to refuse substances than similar students who were in the control group.”

One wonders who’s offering substances to third through fifth graders, but we welcome any evidence that shows the ability of critical thinking to overcome advertising’s emotional appeals.