Media-Smart Youth

National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development


Media-Smart Youth is an interactive direct education intervention designed to help youth ages 11 to 13 build skills in media analysis and media production and to understand how the media can influence their health, especially in regard to nutrition and physical activity. The goals of the program are to empower youth to:

  • Become aware of – and think critically about – media’s role in influencing their nutrition and physical activity choices.
  • Build skills that help them make informed decisions about being physically active and eating nutritious food in daily life.
  • Establish healthy habits that will last into adulthood.
  • Learn about media and create their own media products to educate their peers.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity

Intervention Type: Direct Education

Intervention Reach and Adoption

Media-Smart Youth targets youth ages 11-13 in afterschool settings. Examples of settings where the program has been implemented include YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, Communities in Schools, youth camps, recreation centers, and other afterschool programs.

Setting: School, Community

Target Audience: Middle School

Race/Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

The Media-Smart Youth curriculum consists of 10 90-minute lessons that include activities, snack breaks and action breaks. The activities emphasize media awareness, media production, nutrition, and physical activity. The Finishing Up the Lesson section of each lesson includes handouts to help youth share what they have learned with friends and family members. Throughout the program, youth create mini-productions, using skills they learned during the lessons to create simple media products. The program concludes with the Big Production, where youth create a media product to motivate peers to engage in a specific action to improve nutrition or increase physical activity.

Intervention Materials

The materials needed to implement the program can be downloaded online or ordered for free through the program website:

Evidence Summary

  • The program was piloted several years ago at 10 sites across the country, with 275 youth, and it was reviewed by a formal government nutrition panel for accordance with federal nutrition guidelines.
  • NICHD completed a formal program evaluation in 2009, comparing youth outcomes at sites that administered the Media-Site Youth program versus those that did not. The report is at
  • In 2013, NICHD updated the curriculum and piloted the upgraded version with 10 different sites across the country. NICHD conducted interviews with program facilitators to learn about their successes and challenges. The report is at

Classification: Evidence-based

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

Readiness and Capacity – Short Term (ST) Changes – Medium Term (MT) Effectiveness and Maintenance – Long Term (LT) Population Results (R)
Individual MT1, MT3
Environmental Settings
Sectors of Influence

Evaluation Materials

The facilitator’s packet includes pre-and post-curriculum activities that include a survey to assess knowledge and attitudes surrounding nutrition, physical activity and the media:

Additional Information

Website: The Media-Smart Youth website ( includes information about the program, training resources, and links to download and order materials for free.

Contact Person(s):
NICHD Information Resource Center
P.O. Box 3006
Rockville, MD 20847
Phone: 1-800-370-2943 (TTY: 1-888-320-6942)