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I love trying to see through the media, to really understand how they're trying to manipulate me. Take ads, for example. In a single day, we come across hundreds, maybe thousands of ads. I'm talking TV commercials, radio ads, bus wraps, web pop-ups, sporting events. I've even seen 'em in public restrooms!

And, I know advertisers spend big bucks on ads to make me want their stuff. I actually read that advertisers know that girls tend to make a bigger deal about their looks than boys do about theirs. One study testing this out found that 50% of Saturday morning toy commercials aimed at girls talked about physical attractiveness. And, none of the ads aimed at boys mentioned appearance at all. Stunning!!


Try This

Being media savvy can actually make media more fun for you. Next time you watch a TV show or go to the movies, try to spot the "product placements." People who produce goods strike deals with people who make entertainment media, like movies and TV shows. In these deals, products (like snack foods, sodas, particular brands of cigarettes, even furniture) are shown onscreen or used by characters in the show. Like all the others, this tactic is one way advertisers try to convince people that a product is cool or desirable.

kids playing basketballIf you're like me, tuning into the real world feels a lot better than staring at TV and video games all the time. Here are some ideas for things to do that can make you feel a whole lot better about yourself ­ no TV required!

  • Grab a buddy and do something. Just hang out and play cards, shoot some hoops, make cookies, soak up some sports stats, get in some cardio by jumping rope, paint your nails…you get the picture!
  • Give a hand in your community. Help coach little kids' soccer, volunteer at an animal shelter, or just carry groceries for the elderly woman next door.
  • Take some time to think. Without the media "noise," you may have a moment to sit on your bed, and doodle on the back of your science notebook. Think about what you like about yourself, who you admire and why, and what your goals would be if there was nothing at all in your way.
  • Turn to your family. Mail a note that says "hi" to your Grandpa, braid your kid sister's hair, ask someone in your house to name "one good thing and one bad thing about your day" (listen to the answers, ask one more question).
  • Join a new school activity—like a sports team, band, or theater group.



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