Students at Tucumcari Middle School were taught how to distinguish between news and a sales pitch.
The presentation about media literacy was made by Denis Doyon of the New Mexico Media Literacy Project on Thursday.
"Media literacy is the ability to critically consume and create media," said Doyon, NMLP's director of media productions.
"I was surprised to see and learn how the ads are aimed at teenagers," said Elaura Chavez, a seventh grader. "This made me think about all of the other ads that I have seen in magazines and on T.V."
Media literacy education will help teens and adults to assess, analyze, evaluate and deconstruct media, Doyon said.
When deconstructing media the students can determine who paid for the ad, who was the target audience, what tools of persuasion were used and what part of the story was not being told, Doyon said.
"So many tobacco and alcohol ads are targeting our youth," Doyon said. "Education shows them how the ads are designed to appeal to them and interest them in their product."
An example of advertising aimed at youth was Reynolds Tobacco's introduction of Joe Camel in 1992, Doyon said.
"Who is more inclined to watch cartoons," and to watch "a cartoon camel smoking a Camel cigarette," Doyon asked the students.
In December of 1991, a study of producti logo recognition by children three to six years old was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The children were instructed to match logos with one of 12 products pictured on a game board. Camel and Marlboro products were included. Thirty percent of the three year olds correctly matched Old Joe with a picture of a cigarette compared with 91.3 percent of the six-year-old children.
Ad messages are targeting children and teens, Doyon said.
"When you look at many of the alcohol and cigarette ads, they are designed and packaged to appeal to the teens," Doyon said.
Packaging and images also glamorize nightlife and the hip-hop lifestle, Doyon said.
Doyon said that many of the ads targeting teens can have a negative impact. He said that teens need to be able to determine who is being empowered and disempowered by these ads. Teens should ask, what kind of lifestyle is the ad promoting, and is there a positive message behind the ad or is it negative.
"Now that I have seen how the ads are targeting us, I think I will be able to make better decisions," said Manuel Blea, another seventh grader.
The presentation was part of a collaboration between the NMMLP and the Quay County Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) Coalition.