SeeMe is a new, curriculum aligned, interactive online resource that builds media literacy skills in an effort to tackle the alarming incidence of body dissatisfaction reported by Australian young people.
More than 75% of teenage girls and 50% of boys report being dissatisfied with their bodies[i]. Unrealistic and unhealthy depictions of ‘body and beauty ideals’, the increasing use of digital image manipulation and the use of narrow gender stereotypes across the media, advertising and fashion industries is a pervasive social factor shaping young people’s body image. Media internalisation, that is the pressure to look like the idealised images portrayed in the media, contributes to body dissatisfaction, a risk factor for developing low self-esteem, depression and unhealthy weight loss and control behaviours.
The QVWC have focussed our efforts on increasing media literacy to promote positive body image. Critical media literacy is vital in enabling young people to understand the techniques used to persuade us, de-code media messages and decipher what’s real and what’s not.
The SeeMe website has been developed and piloted with an inspirational group of year 8 Student Leaders (both girls and boys) from three Victorian schools. The group worked with the QVWC and our ICT and web content partners to create the website incorporating a range of ICT tools across five interactive modules:
- Gender stereotypes;
- Healthy lifestyle choices;
- body image;
- fashion and cosmetics; and
- SeeMe-Invisible me
as well as a digital interactive called Photoshock that takes a ‘behind the scenes’ look at photo shopping techniques.
The Student Leaders were then supported to deliver the SeeMe classroom pilots, which included a pre and post survey to measure knowledge, attitudinal and behavioural change.
Independently evaluated by The Foundation for Young Australians, results from the pilots show that SeeMe does make a positive difference to media literacy and body image. After participating in the SeeMe program, 79% of students reported that they were better able to identify media techniques, the majority of students reported being significantly happier about their bodies and students reported that SeeMe helped boost their confidence and self-esteem.
The SeeMe program has been made possible with support from the Victorian Government’s Department of Education and Department of Business and Innovation.
[i] Mission Australia’s National Survey of Young Australians, 2010