Media Aware Parent – iRT’s new program to help parents talk with their pre-teens and teens about sex, relationships, and media – is an effective way to bolster communication and healthy attitudes in teens, according to an article that was published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Media Aware Parent is the latest program in iRT’s Media Aware series, which uses a media literacy education approach to promote healthy sexual decision-making in youth. The program gives parents the tools to have ongoing, honest, and open conversations with their teen about important topics of the 21st century.

Evaluating the short-term impact of Media Aware Parent, a web-based program for parents with the goal of adolescent sexual health promotion” – a journal article by iRT researchers Dr. Tracy Scull (senior research scientist), Dr. Christina Malik (research scientist), and Elyse Keefe, MPH, MSW (research specialist) – describes the many successes of the new program. In a randomized controlled trial with over 300 families, Media Aware Parent was found to improve teens’ communication and attitudes toward sex and media. In addition, parents reported high satisfaction with the program across the board!


After completing Media Aware Parent, both parents and their teens reported that their communication improved. Parents were able to help their children feel more positive about communicating sexual health concerns, both within their family and with medical professionals. Furthermore, parents were able to better communicate their values; after parents used Media Aware Parent, their teens were more aware of their family’s rules and values regarding media use and sexual activity (an important deterrent of early sexual behavior).

Healthy Attitudes

Teens and parents who used Media Aware Parent gained improved media literacy skills. For instance, teens and parents were less likely to accept unhealthy media messages as a complete source of information. Teens felt more positive and confident about using protection if and when they decide to be sexually active. Moreover, teens demonstrated greater self-efficacy to refuse unwanted sexual encounters.

Program Satisfaction

Finally, Media Aware Parent received rave reviews from parents, who overwhelmingly agreed that it was more helpful, more comprehensive, and easier to use than other available resources designed to help parents communicate with their teens about sex. Parents also reported that they learned a lot of new information and were comfortable with the online format of the program. And, a full 98% of parents surveyed said they would recommend Media Aware Parent over other resources! For anyone interested in taking their recommendation, Media Aware Parent is available for purchase now.