Teaching Media Literacy skills has been proven to strengthen many aspects of health education; research has proven better decision-making around alcohol, drug, and tobacco use when students’ health education includes Media Literacy critical thinking skills.
By Tamara Sobel, Massachusetts Director of Legislation, Policy & Community Organizing, Media Literacy Now
The AP news story of Dec. 30, covering our media literacy legislation work is a huge recognition for us: The MLN team has been working for over six years to get the concept of Media Literacy into the public awareness and discussion. The story – picked up by dozens of news outlets across the country – is going to help that effort for sure by raising awareness.
But the article focused on news media literacy, and we also need to make sure that other aspects of Media Literacy education equally as important are getting into the public consciousness. Teaching Media Literacy skills has been proven to strengthen many aspects of health education; research has proven better decision-making around alcohol, drug, and tobacco use when students’ health education includes Media Literacy critical thinking skills. Studies also show young people making better decisions about nutrition, and sex, when educated with Media Literacy skills. That is because so many products and ideas related to these areas are promoted in the commercial media, and it is only logical that young people need to be able to understand the meaning and influence of the commercial media world in order to make independent, smart choices about their own lives, their own health.
In Massachusetts, public health policymakers in the legislature have begun to recognize the importance of Media Literacy in health education, and for the first time, several bills being considered in this legislative session are incorporating the recommendation of Media Literacy skills in aspects of health curriculum.
It’s time to make the connection between 21st century health education and Media Literacy skills. For more specific info, see the MLN ” Media Literacy and Public Health” document posted on the MLN website under the What is Media Literacy tab;
“Making the connection: Media Literacy and Health”
Tamara Sobel, J.D, C.S.E., leads the Massachusetts chapter of MLN. She is the Founder and National Coordinator of the Girls, Women + Media Project, a website and activism network that was one of the first to focus on media education and activism around the representation of girls and women in popular media. She is a Certified Sexuality Educator with a special interest in how media affects body image, sexual development and decisionmaking, and gender equality. Prior to her work with media literacy, Tamara was a public interest attorney who specialized in public health and consumer protection.