Girls Incorporated Media Literacy

Why this program?

From magazines to marketing campaigns to music videos, girls today are bombarded by media images. According to a 2004 study, girls ages 8-18 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 behaviour, 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 behaviour 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 portraying consequences of use. 

About The Program

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 the media messages and ask critical questions such as: Who is the community 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. 
  • Media and Me: Girls ages 6-8 celebrate positive roles for girls and women in media, investigate different types of media, consider fiction versus nonfiction media content, practice creating their own media messages, and tackle issues of concern such as violence and stereotypes in media. 
  • Media Smarts: Girls ages 9-11 investigate the use of slogans, logos, merchandising, and target marketing in media; consider the realness of reality TV; find ways to overcome bias in the news; practice creating strong, smart, and bold characters, TV show treatments, and media campaigns; and tackle issues of concern such as beauty, diversity, and stereotypes in media. 
  • Girls Take Another Look: Girls ages 12-14 explore the variety of media available to them; practice deconstructing obvious and hidden media messages; question the media’s focus on appearance and narrow definition of beauty; experiment with character development and storyboarding; consider the relevance of news media; investigate the use of brand names, logos, and other marketing tools; learn how to influence the media by communicating their opinions to those in power; and explore careers in a variety of media fields. 
  • Girls Get the Message: Girls and young women ages 15-18 analyze messages and create and edit storyboards to change the messages in music videos and reality TV programs, conduct audits of magazines for advertising content and of newspapers for equity in gender coverage, consider the biases in various news sources, develop political campaign slogans and materials, screen films made by and about women, develop character sketches for TV shows and treatments for documentaries, and plan and conduct field trips to explore media businesses. 
  • Girls Make the Message: In this companion production-based community action project, girls and young women ages 15-18 put into practice what they learned in the previous components by crafting and communicating their own messages into digital video public service announcements and participating in public dialogue around issues important to them via community interview, screenings, and discussions about their productions. 
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