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Media Analysis Lab
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Pilot Project

8 classes were involved in the project from 4 different schools from the Deep Cove district of North Vancouver. There were a total of 178 students in grades 2-6 including 91 male students and 87 female students. The intervention started with an audit of media use (questionaires and diaries), followed by five one hour in- class weekly workshops (media education) and was supplement with parent newsletter and workshop.The evaluation was based on a tune out week activity diary as well as student, parent and teacher interviews and playground observations.

Lots of people, including Adbusters promote Turning Media Off. But few people have done the creative work of figuring out we can communicate this idea effectively to kids. One of the achievements that the project team is most proud of is that we seemed to have designed a media education intervention, that made it cool for kids to tune out the screen. That is like making it cool to not smoke. Remember we never told the kids what to do. Yet 93% of the kids voluntarily decided to see if they could go with reduced media. 64% of the children chose to go cold turkey, 29% adopted a 'controlled use' approach, and less than 7% 'opted out' the challenge. Whereas Robinson reported a 30% reduction in media use we report an 80% reduction in the time spent using video games and TV/ VCR's in the test week. I don't think Robinson reports a reduction figure, but rather a comparison between means at treatment schools and control schools.

But it is hard to compare the two studies. Robinson obviously had a lot more money and both conducted and evaluated the programme over a longer time than we did. They focused on grade 4's but we tried working with students from grades 2/3 through grade 5/6. Robinson compared across schools, and we compared before and after treatments within subjects using the difference between the time spend in week day screen use as measured before the programme with the time spend during the tune-out challenge week.

But these are issues of research method. In both cases we have interesting evidence that kids are willing to experiment with cutting down on their media use. Previous studies had not shown the media education could have such impacts. Moreover, we found that displacement effects maybe significant in understanding the sedentary lifestyle. When kids do cut back on the screen, they gain discretionary time, and we find that when supported by parents and peers, they will do with it that which the like best -- more often than not active play. Robinson in his overweight study did not look at what kids did. We also put we more emphasis in our media education curriculum on promoting alternatives to the screen, based on our research finding that active play is what most kids prefer to do anyway. Well in BC anyway which has the lowest rates of TV use and most active kids in Canada anyway.




To learn about this Risk Reduction Strategy watch this video

Watch this video to learn about teachers' experiences of the project