PULLMAN, Wash.–Washington State University communication faculty member Erica Weintraub Austin will address the uses of media and decision making and social development in a keynote address Tuesday, June 30, at the 1998 National Media Education Conference at Colorado Springs, Colo.
In her keynote address, “What Makes Media Literacy a Public Health Issue,” Austin will discuss findings from a research study, “Predicting Future Risky Behavior Among Those ‘Too Young’ to Drink as the Result of Advertising Desirability.”
The study findings indicate that the beliefs of third, fifth and ninth graders about alcohol and alcohol advertising become more positive with age or grade level, but their understanding of the ads’ persuasive intent develops more slowly, reported Austin. “If actions are not taken to intervene earlier than previously thought,” she said, “their positive beliefs about the desirability of alcohol products and consumption grow more quickly than the skepticism they need to evaluate media messages and make healthy lifestyle choices.”
Austin is associate professor and head of the public relations sequence at WSU in the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication. Her research addresses the interplay of media and parental influences in children’s decisions about health, politics and social reality.
The complete study will be presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s annual meeting in Baltimore in August.

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