Chapter 9

Does Media Make a Difference?

Advertisers spend lots of money to influence youth. Protect your child by teaching him or her to be smart about how the media may encourage unhealthy attitudes and behaviors about drug use.

Children are exposed to media influences every day; designs on food packages, milk cartons or cereal boxes. On the way to school they see billboards advertising everything from French fries to political candidates. At school they might see backpacks and clothes with designer logos, or images from tobacco or alcohol brands. Friends discuss TV programs, movies, video games, or songs with controversial lyrics.

Research tells us that children are influenced both negatively and positively by media they are exposed to. Advertising is everywhere, and when you stop to think about it, you may find yourself realizing how vulnerable everybody is to the media’s reach. For example, the tobacco industry has done a powerful job of using media to influence people’s attitudes about smoking. Research provides strong evidence that simply viewing smoking in movies promotes a desire to start smoking among adolescents.

In some countries the media are used to educate people about the dangers of smoking. This chapter looks at the ways media may influence your child, then suggests ways you can reduce its influence on your child’s behavior.

Prevention-Smart launched for initial evaluation on June 26th 2009. If you have any comments or feedback, please email us via the contact form.