Media Literacy Boot Camp: Anti-ED Strategies

Let me just say I am a geek for brain science, media literacy (image above I created), and social media. I love it. I get excited like a kid at a playground when I get to hear experts in their field talk about these subjects, especially in relationships to eating disorders and body image!

One of the breakout sessions that really spoke to me was presented by Bobbie Eisenstock, PhD called “Media Literacy Boot Camp: Anti-ED strategies for empowering youth in the digital culture”.

If you are unfamiliar with Bobbie Eisenstock, I encourage you to go to her website and review some of her amazing work. Her bio:

Bobbie Eisenstock, PhD is a media education consultant and faculty at California State University Northridge where she co-founded Me & My BMI: The Body Media Image Project. Dr. Eisenstock specializes in the social-psychological effects of media and uses media literacy to empower children, teens and families in the digital culture. She merges professional expertise and personal experience with eating disorders to advance awareness and prevention of media’s influence on normalizing unrealistic body standards in her workshops for youth, parents, and health practitioners. A member of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, her recent publications include Cyber Harm for Teen Line, the youth crisis hotline at Cedars-Sinai Medical-Center.

A truly impressive resume and her session at NEDA this past weekend was great for people who are new to media literacy efforts, want to be part of creating awareness, as well as those who want to start to take action and counter the messages in the media, and help people becoming critical viewers of media.

I wanted to share the presentation key points, because I think media literacy is crucial in society. I have focused on this area since the beginning of creating ViR, and hope to continue to make this an important part of awareness and activism.

Here is the presentation:

Why Media Literacy?

  • Media Literacy skills can help educate, engage, and empower youth
  • It can help identify ED (Eating Disorder) risks in the digital media culture
  • It can help counteract messages that normalize unrealistic body image and unhealthy food and fitness choices
  • It can help advocate healthy ideal cultural standards for appearance, body size and shape

6 Digital Media Literacy Competencies*

1) Access:

Make responsible media choices and apply critical thinking skills to find and share appropriate, relevant and reliable information to guide your knowledge, beliefs and actions.

2) Analyze:

Know how to decode and make sense of information and examine the content to ascertain purpose, point of view, accuracy, and currency.

3) Evaluate:
Determine value and quality of the content for yourself and for others while considering potential effects of messages.

4) Create:
Produce your own messages with awareness of purpose, audience, creative techniques, and potential effects text message, IM, e-mail, twitter, blog, web site, social network,photo, image, video, sound, cartoon, flyer, interview, letter, etc.

5) Reflect:
Apply social responsibility and ethical principles to youridentity, personal experience, and communication behavior.

6) Act:
Take social action individually or collaboratively to share knowledge, solve problems, and participate in your community locally, nationally and internationally.

*Adapted from The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action, Washington DC: The Aspen Institute, November 2010.

Media Literacy Core Concepts and Key Questions*

CORE CONCEPT 1: Media messages are constructed

  • Which medium is used to create the message? TV, movie, radio, music, magazine, newspaper, book, video game, advertising, billboard, website, social network, IM, text, e-mail, twitter, chat, blog, video/photo sharing, etc.
  • Who wrote, edited, designed, produced, and distributed the message? Media professional? Medical expert? Blogger? Or is the source anonymous?
  • Did you create the message? Or is the source someone you know or admire? Friend? Online acquaintance? Celebrity?
  • How credible is the source?
  • Who is the intended target audience? How do you know?

CORE CONCEPT 2: Each medium uses its own creative techniques, interactive features, and software to construct messages

  • What techniques are used to create the message?
  • What features are used to get the audience’s attention? images, photos, language, lingo, slogans, headlines, tone, sarcasm, humor, emoticoms, colors, fonts, video, animation, avatars, music, lyrics, sound effects, camera angles, lighting, interactivity, photoshop, celebrity endorsement, etc.
  • If models or celebrities are featured, do they really look like that? Are bodies or faces airbrushed or altered in any way? How can you tell?

CORE CONCEPT 3: Media messages are produced for particular purposes, often profit-driven

  • Why was the message created?
  • Is the purpose to entertain, educate, inform, persuade or make money? Who owns, pays for, and profits from the message?
  • Who might benefit? Who might be harmed?

CORE CONCEPT 4:Media messages have embedded values, points of view, and lifestyles

  • What does the message really say about body image and health habits? What underlying values or viewpoints are implied or stated about appearance, weight, diet and exercise? What lifestyles are portrayed?
  • What body shape and size does it suggest are desirable? What does it suggest to do to achieve that look or lifestyle?
  • Is the information accurate and true? Fact or opinion? What is left out that might be important?

CORE CONCEPT 5: People understand the same message in different ways based on their individual skills, beliefs, and experiences

  • What do people take away from the message?
  • How might a person with weight or food issues interpret the message? How might the message make someone feel about his/her body – someone who is too thin or too heavy, preoccupied with body image, overly concerned about what to eat, in recovery from an eating disorder?
  • How might certain beliefs, attitudes or prejudices about weight, diet and exercise affect a person’s understanding of the message? What expectations might someone have about different size people?
  • How might people interpret the message differently based on their age, gender identity, sexual orientation, education, race, ethnicity, religion, political ideology, ability, appearance, prior experiences?

CORE CONCEPT 6: Media messages can influence beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, and the democratic process

    • What does the message mean to you? Does the message reinforce or conflict with your beliefs and attitudes about healthy body image? Does it affect your knowledge about a person or health concern?
    • How does the message make you feel about yourself and your body? Does the message make you want to change something about yourself, your looks, eating habits or exercise routine? Is this positive or negative?
    • How might it affect how you relate to other people and they relate to you?
    • What actions should be taken to promote healthy body images? What can you do to advocate for change?

*Adapted from Center for Media Literacy and National Association for Media Literacy Education
© 2011 Bobbie Eisenstock Ph.D.

I hope to share much more on my experiences at NEDA! Hope you all have a wonderful Monday!



4 Responses to Media Literacy Boot Camp: Anti-ED Strategies
  1. Caitlin
    October 17, 2011 | 7:21 am

    Great post! Media literacy is so important and there is not enough of it out there. It should be as common as all the media itself. About to check out Bobbie’s site!
    Caitlin recently posted..Workday Food Routines

  2. Sarah
    October 17, 2011 | 7:25 am

    I find this SO fascinating, not only from an ED recovery point of view, but with my professional hat on too.

    My degree is in journalism and within that we studies media construct, messages semiotics and developing media literacy.

    I have also taught media studies to students in my last job – talking to teenagers about the messages they take from the media, be it, social networking, digital media or advertising. They are certainly an intelligent bunch and able to look at the messages in media more than people think.

    I believe that in relation to ED/Body image etc. developing an understanding of they WAY in which the media creators can manipulate images statistics will help young people see that what they first see might not be the case after all – that images are airbrushed and quotes are often misleading. I believe that tackling this would help.

    I also think the exposure to honest, real and positive media would help outweigh the negative, pro-ED media that exists.

    Really, really fancinating. Thank you.

  3. Kym Raines
    October 18, 2011 | 5:58 pm

    I wanted to attend this session. I’m thrilled you posted this, incredible info.

    I hope you had a wonderful experience at NEDA!

    Thank you for this information.



  4. Sara Grambusch
    October 27, 2011 | 5:24 am

    This is so great. There really should be class in elementary school that teaches this.
    That’s awesome you were able to attend NEDA!
    Sara Grambusch recently posted..Body Shaming In Advertising: It’s Not For Men – How Dr. Pepper Ten Reinforces Diet Culture

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