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Hedy Dexter


Media-literacy education provides a way for people to assess and critically evaluate media images. Traditional media literacy programs have mitigated the negative effects of idealized media imagery such as reduced self-esteem, eating-disordered attitudes, and low body-satisfaction among women. Although education is moving increasingly to online platforms, the potential of media literacy education delivered online has not been evaluated. Based on social comparison and objectification theories, the purpose of this study was to quantitatively assess the comparative efficacy of online and face-to-face media literacy education programs. A quasi-experimental design using pre- and post-media literacy education program questionnaires was used. A mixed-method analysis of variance evaluated change in self-esteem, eating-disordered attitudes, and body satisfaction among college students. The study was conducted using a sample that included both male and female students from undergraduate classes. The study groups included traditional and online classes. Results for all three variables revealed that the media literacy education program did not have the predicted impact. Significant differences were not found between the online experimental (n = 65), face-to-face experimental (n = 50), and the online control group (n = 44) even though a significant main effect for time was found. The adverse effects of ubiquitous idealized media images remain well-documented; however, the swiftly evolving, increasingly balkanized, present-day media landscape may necessitate both an accommodating theoretical foundation and updated intervention instruments.

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