Jane Tallim from the Media Awareness Network describes media literacy as “the ability to sift though and analyze the messages that inform, entertain and sell to us every day. It’s the ability to bring critical thinking skills to bear on all media.”
Based on this definition of media literacy, the importance of engaging youth in health issues, and the popularity and prevalence of social media in young people’s lives, our youth staff developed a campaign.
The campaign has two goals:
- Short-term : To increase youth’s capacity and ability to critically think about the world around them
- Long-term: To have youth make informed, healthy choices for themselves – i.e. mitigating the influence of media and marketing
The campaign isn’t about saying “no” it’s about asking “why”.
iThink is a social marketing campaign, consisting of a Facebook group and Youtube channel, that was developed to engage youth in this manner. The campaign highlights the deceptive tactics used by “big industry” to sell their products, and a makes an effort to denormalize the glamourous lifestyles that are portrayed, which often promote tobacco use and substance misuse.
Welcome to the iTHINK Critical Thinking and Media Literacy Manual. This is a comprehensive manual that will help you engage youth in a fun, exciting, and interactive way while developing their critical thinking skills.
Every day youth are targeted by the media with advertising. In fact, the average North American is exposed to 3,000 ads a day (Children, Adolescents, and Advertising, 2006)! This onslaught of media advertising puts pressure on youth to buy products, even if the products are harmful. Products are associated with images that make youth believe they will be cool, succeed in life, or have more fun if they purchase them. Media influences may make youth begin to feel that they have little control over their life (Center for a New American Dream poll, 2002). This advertising pressure is why it is important to introduce critical thinking skills at a young age, and to provide ongoing opportunities for youth to develop media literacy skills.
Literature shows that engaged youth are resilient youth, and subsequently experience more positive health outcomes than un-engaged youth (The Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement). Research also shows that the development of critical thinking skills allows youth to become media literate and provides them with tools to analyze the media influences they are surrounded by every day (“Assessing the Effectiveness of Critical Thinking Instruction”, 1993). Becoming media literate and developing a critical eye positively affects youth by encouraging them to be aware of the choices they make, and the impact of those choices on their health.
Last modified on Jan 15, 2015