by Amanda Moss
Richmond County Daily Journal

HAMLET — Families joined their students at Fairview Heights Elementary School to work together and find the hidden meanings beneath the advertisements they see on a daily basis.

The program is called Media Detective and it is a media literacy education program for students in grades three through five. The goal of the program is to prevent or delay the onset of underage alcohol and tobacco use. It has been going on at Fairview since Nov. 1.

Friday night was family night at the school as parents and grandparents gathered together to learn what the students have been taught since the beginning of the month.

Sarah Rabiner, with Innovation Research and Training, was there as a representative for the program.

“The family night is an extension program to the Media Detective program,” Rabiner said. “The goal is to engage the families in the media literacy program and to pull different people in so they are more aware of what they see in advertisements. It’s great to watch the families as they get to see how much their kids have learned just from advertisements.”

Brenda David and Emily Nicholson, both from Alcohol and Drug Services, explained to the families and kids what they would be doing for the night and continuously interacted with them to make sure they were on the right track.

“There are messages we see everyday in advertisements,” David said. “In movies, television and magazines.”

The families and kids paired up into groups as they took a look at three different cases dealing with advertising. Each case focused on different issues with advertisements, such as hidden messages, missing information, ad-hooks and knowing who the target audience is. Each group tried to catch the hidden meanings behind the cases.

“Different companies try to appeal to specific groups,” Nicholson said. “They target children on purpose because they want target loyalty at an early age.”

Family members had a chance to watch a recent beer advertisement so they could try and pick it apart. Each of the families took their turns in identifying the target audience for the commercial, the hidden messages throughout the commercial as well as the missing information in the commercial — that drinking can cause you to be drunk and can lead to numerous consequences, especially if the drinker is underage.

When the families were asked about how they could continue to help their kids to understand the meaning behind advertisements, Patrice Robinson, a grandmother to a few students present, said, “You can tell them about the negatives and positives about the commercial. You can break down what it really is about for them.”

Her grandson, Cincere Wall, 8, agreed with his grandmother while adding, “And we can always ask questions when we don’t understand.”