You can be manlier, more beautiful/sexier, healthier, a better parent/partner, wealthier, have more fun, and be more successful, if only you buy this product
You probably hear and see hundreds of media images each day! Anytime you watch television or a movie, listen to music, read a book, magazine, or newspaper, browse the internet, play video games, or even drive past a billboard, you are being constantly bombarded with complex media messages.
Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, and evaluate these messages, and the better we are at understanding them, the less influence they’ll have over our decisions.
Think about any commercial for a product you’ve seen, and you’ll notice they all say (both directly and indirectly) that you can be manlier, more beautiful/sexier, healthier, a better parent/partner, wealthier, have more fun, and be more successful, if only you buy this product.
Advertisements have historically shown the most stereotypical portrayals of men and women, further spreading the idea that this is how men and women are supposed to act (see gender roles).
Beauty ads promise improved looks from their products, but often show heavily airbrushed images of flawless skin and altered facial features that are un-achievable in real life.
Here is a list of questions you can ask whenever you see an ad:
Note: If you have kids, this is a great way challenge their critical thinking skills!
- Who created this message?
- What is this ad trying to sell? (A product? A service? An idea?)
- What techniques is the ad using to persuade me? (Humor? Fear of danger or inadequacy? Sex? Celebrity endorsement? “Experts”? Repetition? Testimonials? The list goes on…)
- How might different people understand this message differently?
- What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented? Which are omitted?
If you have any questions about media literacy, please contact Brandon Pendleton, Primary Prevention Coordinator. He gets to talk about cool topics like this with kids and adults alike. Request a presentation or series of classes for your group today.