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First-year Master's student in Interdisciplinary Health Communications looking to find new, effective ways to use media to promote positive health behaviors and make the world a healthier place.

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Alcohol use in movies encourages teen drinking

Much like how smoking in movies encourages teens to smoke, alcohol use in movies encourages teens to drink. In a study released by the academic journal Pediatrics teens who had seen more alcohol use in movies were significantly more likely to have engaged in binge drinking, even after controlling for age, affluence and rebelliousness. This is the largest study conducted to date with more than 16,500 students ages 10 to 19 in Germany, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Scotland. Even though the study is comprised of European countries, most box office hits are the same in every country, which makes the study’s findings generalizable to teens all around the world.

Much like smoking in movies, this study raises the same questions and concerns on the media’s effects on teen health behavior. We know that teens’ behavior is highly influenced by what they see in the media, so how can we mitigate the media’s effects on teen behavior? An option is media literacy. Media literacy promotes critical thinking skills about media images and teaches people how to control what images they are exposed to. If media literacy is taught to teens, then they may process what they see differently, which would decrease the images’ effects on their behavior.

Do you think media literacy could be useful in mitigating the effect of the media on teens’ behavior? Do you have another suggestion that may be helpful?

Image attribution: engendeniz via stock.xchng

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