Longitudinal study shows Media Literacy is a key tool in youth violence prevention

One of the activities in the curriculum is to deconstruct images on video game packaging

In the curriculum, students deconstruct images such as those on video game packaging

Today, some very positive and exciting news that I’ve been keeping from you for too long. A University of California at Los Angeles study found that Media Literacy is an effective approach to youth violence prevention and to reducing other negatives from children’s exposure to media violence.

The curriculum, Beyond Blame: Challenging Violence in the Media, is a middle school program developed by the Center for Media Literacy of Santa Monica, California. According to Executive Director Tessa Jolls, the study validates the Center’s framework for teaching media literacy through five key questions and five core concepts:

CML’s Five Key Questions

1. Who created this message?
2. What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
3. How might different people understand this message differently?
4. What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?
5. Why is this message being sent?

CML’s Five Core Concepts

1. All media messages are constructed.
2. Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.
3. Different people experience the same media message differently.
4. Media have embedded values and points of view.
5. Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

“This study increased our confidence that the framework works, and can also apply to tobacco, body image, sexuality – any topic,” Ms. Jolls told me in a phone call back in September.

The longitudinal study, in which researchers looked for lasting effects 6 months to a year after the initial program, found that the curriculum helped children to recognize that media violence affects them and affects the society as a whole – reducing the desensitization noted by the American Psychological Association. The study also found that aggressive behavior was mitigated.

More good news: Now that it has been positively evaluated, Beyond Blame: Challenging Violence in the Media has been selected by the California Department of Education as high quality curriculum for in-class and after school programs. It can be found at the  California Healthy Kids Resource Library and California After school Resource Center.

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