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Health Commun. 2008 Sep;23(5):462-72. doi: 10.1080/10410230802342135.

Effects of a peer-led media literacy curriculum on adolescents' knowledge and attitudes toward sexual behavior and media portrayals of sex.

Author information

1
Edward R Murrow College of Communication, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-2520, USA.

Abstract

The United States has the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and birth in the Western industrialized world, and research indicates that television and other mass media are important sources of sexual information for young people. The purpose of this study was to determine if a teen-led, media literacy curriculum focused on sexual portrayals in the media would increase adolescents' awareness of media myths concerning sex, decrease the allure of sexualized portrayals, and decrease positive expectancies for sexual activity. A posttest-only quasi-experiment with control groups was conducted at 22 school and community sites in Washington state (N = 532). The intervention, a 5-lesson media literacy curriculum targeted primarily to middle school students, encouraged sexual abstinence because of federal government funding requirements. Adolescents evaluated the program positively, with 85% rating it as better than other sex education programs. Compared to control-group participants, students were less likely to overestimate sexual activity among teens, more likely to think they could delay sexual activity, less likely to expect social benefits from sexual activity, more aware of myths about sex, and less likely to consider sexual media imagery desirable. The results showed that media literacy has promise as part of a sex education program by providing adolescents with a cognitive framework necessary to understand and resist the influence of media on their decision making concerning sex.

PMID:
18850393
DOI:
10.1080/10410230802342135
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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