Media Literacy in the Digital Age!
We're Not Buying It 2.0 (WNBI 2.0)TM is a substance abuse prevention program that focuses on developing media literacy skills among sixth through eighth grade students.
Developed by Wellspring Center for Prevention (formerly NCADD of Middlesex County, Inc.), WNBI 2.0 uses prevention education strategies to reduce early first use of alcohol, marijuana, and prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as bullying behavior. A primary focus is on raising awareness of messages about substance abuse and bullying that are included in popular, non-advertisement media.
The original version of the program was developed in 2000 as We're Not Buying It: The Alcohol and Tobacco Connection. It consisted of four lessons exploring alcohol and tobacco print advertising. In 2010, an extensive revision of the program began. Recognizing that media consumption by youth had shifted dramatically over the last decade (Rideout, Foehr & Roberts, 2010; Madden, Lenhart, Duggan, Cortesi & Gasser, 2013; Zickuhr, 2010; Common Sense Media, 2012), print advertising was eliminated from the curriculum. It was replaced by popular music, television, movies and social media such as YouTube and Facebook. As part of this revision, tobacco was dropped from the program, and marijuana, prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as bullying (including cyber-bullying) were added to the curriculum. Capitalizing on the new media focus, the program was rechristened "We're Not Buying It 2.0" and debuted in classrooms in 2012.
Independent analysis of the data was conducted by Rutgers University's Institute for Families Office of Research and Evaluation. The evaluation identified several statistically-significant positive outcomes related to participation in the We're Not Buying It 2.0 program:
- First, subjects developed more realistic perceptions of the number of friends and students engaging in substance use and bullying behavior
- Second, findings indicate a statistically-significant reduction in the influence of peers on participants' substance use and bullying behavior. Interpreting this finding, however, is somewhat difficult as it is unclear whether students feel they are less influenced by peers or recognize that they are more influenced by other sources.
- The third promising finding was an increased ability to identify a pro-use message in a popular song. This statistically-significant increase from pretest to post-test suggests that students gained media literacy skills through participation in the WNBI program.
- Finally, subjects indicated that they were more likely to react proactively to media messages promoting substance use and/or bullying after completing the program. By post-test, subjects were significantly less likely not to do anything, more likely to turn off the radio and more likely to refuse to buy a song if it contained a favorable substance use message. This suggests that students gained skills that would help them to refuse media messages about substance use and bullying.
The program now includes six units that are delivered over a six-week time period by a certified prevention educator. The sessions include a mix of lecture, discussion and activities designed to last 40-45 minutes each.
Heather Ward, MSW, LSW, CPS
(732) 254-3344 ext. 120