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Home > The prevention professionals’ primer on media literacy.

Pacific Southwest Prevention Technology Transfer Center. (2020) The prevention professionals’ primer on media literacy. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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Media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and the messages they send. Media includes a broad range of platforms, such as newspapers, television, music, digital advertisements, tweets, billboards, etc. The goal of media literacy is to have the skills to critically analyze messages shared through media. 

Alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana advertising increases the likelihood that youth will start to use these substances. A recent study found evidence for a causal relationship between alcohol marketing and drinking among young people.3 “Youth who reported that they'd seen more medical marijuana ads also reported greater marijuana use and more positive beliefs about marijuana; they also said that they were more likely to use marijuana in the future and they experienced more consequences from their use.” Even more concerning, research has found that adolescents are targeted specifically by advertisers, violating guidelines set by the alcohol industry…

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