September 2021, Durham, NC – innovation Research & Training (iRT) is honored to share that it has received a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to develop and evaluate the Media World Parent program.

iRT Senior Research Scientist, Dr. Tracy Scull, is the Principal Investigator for the project. She is joined by Co-Investigators, Dr. Christina Dodson and Dr. Katie Stump. The team will create an evidence-based program to help parents effectively communicate with their middle school-aged children about substance use and media. Media World Parent will build upon several of their previously funded projects, including the classroom curriculum, Media World, to help fill the gap in resources for parents of young adolescents. Media World is an evidence-based media literacy education program that enhances students’ critical thinking skills about media messages to prevent the use of alcohol, tobacco, vaping, smokeless tobacco, marijuana, steroids, caffeine, and misuse of prescription medications, with a focus on opioids.

Through social media, popular music, and television shows, young people often are exposed to media that idealizes or promotes substance use. Continuous exposure to pro-substance media messages predicts youth substance use. Many parents feel that they have little influence on whether or not their child drinks alcohol or uses drugs, and they see communicating with their child about substances as a challenge.

Media World Parent will focus on helping parents engage in important conversations with their children about substance use. Media World Parent will also help parents build their children’s media literacy skills, so young teens can make responsible decisions free from media persuasion. iRT will develop the program with input from a diverse Advisory Panel of parents, youth, and substance abuse prevention specialists from across the United States. Following program development, iRT will launch a feasibility study with parent-adolescent pairs to assess the program’s efficacy.

iRT hopes the program will provide parents of middle school-aged students with knowledge about teen substance use, media mediation skills, and practice in high-quality parent-adolescent communication methods.