Children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don't, yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations.

Assessing Messages

Objective
To be able to critically assess the information received from popular movies, television, and music.

Background
Children in grades 4-6 are developing an interest in music and definite likes and dislikes about television programs. Most watch television unsupervised, may be able to select movies for use on their home television, and may be going to movies alone or in groups. Listening to music and watching television and movies are enjoyable and relaxing, but because movies, television, and popular music are powerful sources of information and misinformation, they can greatly influence children's beliefs and values. Children at this age must learn to analyze messages from these powerful sources as they enjoy them.

Activities
Have students bring in albums, tapes, or videos with lyrics that depict or suggest activities such as smoking, drinking, or using other drugs. If possible, obtain lyrics for the songs. Have the class analyze the lyrics for drug messages. Show examples of advertisements in newspapers and magazines and on television that make drug use look attractive. Have the class list descriptive words evoked by these ads.

Discuss the following:
• What are these messages saying?
• Why are these messages being used?
• What effect can such messages have?
• Are they harmful?
• Can music, videos, movies and advertising be used to help prevent drug use? (ask for examples)
• How should songs, videos, and advertising that include pro-drug messages be dealt with?

Discuss what students can do to counter the effects of lyrics and advertising that condone or promote drug use. Suggestions:

• Write to music or video producers to request that they dispense with pro-drug use messages.

• Create a bulletin board collage of positive, no-drug use messages found in lyrics and advertising.

Resources
Stereo/tape player, television and video recorder; lyrics; examples of advertising from newspapers, magazines, and television.

Teacher Tips
• Explain why cigarette advertising no longer is allowed on television (such advertising is prohibited by federal law because it was found to promote tobacco use, which has been linked to cancer and other diseases).

• Point out how ad (glamorizing alcohol and tobacco fail to show the adverse effects of their use addiction, disease, disruption of family life.

Source
Learning to Live Drug-Free, A Curriculum Model for Prevention, U.S. Department of Education's Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program

2490 Coral Way, Miami, FL 33145 | Phone: 800-705-8997

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