Media-savviness Helps Kids Avoid Alcohol

SEATTLE, Aug. 25 (UPI) — Teaching children as early as third grade to be more skeptical of media messages can help prevent substance abuse, a U.S. researcher says.

Erica Weintraub Austin, director of the Murrow Center for Media and Health Promotion at Washington State University, reports a brief, two-week course boosted the critical thinking skills of third- through fifth-graders and reduced their intentions to use alcohol and tobacco.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, finds the media-skeptical children believed they will be able to resist these ads in the future.

“We underestimate the extent to which young children internalize advertising messages,” Austin says in a statement. “Message designers put a lot of proprietary research into making their messages appealing to young people and children need to understand early on that messages are not always developed with their best interests in mind. This means children must and can learn to discount appeals to their emotions.”

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