The effectiveness of online, family-based media literacy education for substance abuse prevention in elementary school children: Study of the Media Detective Family program

J Community Psychol. 2017 Aug;45(6):796-809. doi: 10.1002/jcop.21893. Epub 2017 Apr 28.


The present study investigates the effectiveness of a family-based, online media literacy education (MLE) program for substance abuse prevention in children from rural areas. A total of 83 families were randomly assigned to receive Media Detective Family (MDF) (n = 47) or a control computer program (n = 36) between pre- and posttest questionnaires. Fifty-one percent (N=42) completed a three-month follow-up questionnaire. Children receiving MDF reported a significant reduction in their use of substances over time compared to children in the control group (d = -.80). Parents receiving MDF reported that the program was convenient and engaging. The current study showed that an online substance use prevention program using MLE and designed for families is an effective intervention method for reducing children's substance use.

Keywords: alcohol; media literacy education; parents; prevention; tobacco.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Computers
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Communication
  • Health Education* / methods
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Rural Population
  • Schools
  • Students
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome