From magazines to marketing campaigns to music videos, girls today are bombarded by media images. According to a 2004 study, girls ages 8 to 18 reported media exposure for 8 hours 27 minutes per day, and media use for 6 hours 19 minutes per day.
The media that girls are consuming contain strong messages that girls’ worth is tied to their appearance. Girls also receive powerful messages from the media about sexual behavior, substance use, and violence:
- Content analyses of TV programming show that sex is portrayed as risk free, and that most people think about and have sex frequently without much concern for health, love, or the stability of the relationship.
- An overwhelming majority of research has shown that media violence engenders intense fear, as well as violent behavior in some children.
- Current research has found that alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, or over- the-counter / prescription medicines are depicted in nearly all (98%) major films, with less than half (49%) of these films port raying consequences of use.
Girls Inc. Media Literacy encourages girls to examine how media messages are constructed, how these messages reflect social values, and how girls’ active participation can influence the messages—and the values. The comprehensive after-school program equips young women to think analytically about media messages and ask critical questions such as: Who is communicating and why? Who is the intended audience and what is the intended result of the message? Whose point of view is presented and whose is left out? What does this text say to me and other girls? The program also provides opportunities for girls to craft and communicate their own messages, integrating media, technology, and civic engagement to help them build 21st Century skills. Throughout the program, girls explore the business side of media, learning about advertising and commercial interests, media and democracy, and career options.