Youth are inundated with media products promoting risky health behaviors (RHBs), including substance use and risky sexual activity. Media literacy interventions emphasize critical media consumption to decrease RHBs.
However, it is unclear whether they positively influence attitudes and behavioral intentions towards RHBs. We conducted meta-analyses of 15 studies (N = 5000) testing intervention effectiveness on media literacy skills and 20 studies (N = 9177) testing effectiveness on attitudes and intentions towards RHBs. We found positive effects on media literacy skills (Hedge's g =.417, [95% CI,.29-.54]) and attitudes and intentions (Hedge's g =.100 [95% CI,.01-.19]).
Intervention medium and target behavior moderated intervention success on attitudes and intentions, but no moderators emerged for media literacy skills. These interventions produce positive effects on media literacy skills and positive but smaller effects on attitudes and behavioral intentions, depending on medium and target behaviour. Implications for adolescent health initiatives are discussed.
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