What Do Our Tweens Know About OTC Literacy?

By Shannon Gurnee
In Health
November 23, 2014


#Scholastic #OTCLiteracy #ad

Are you a parent of a tween?  If so, how much does your tween know about OTC Literacy?  In other words, what does he or she know about Over-the-Counter medications?  A new research study showed that tweens got a failing grade in OTC medicine safety.  Yikes!!!

#Scholastic #OTCLiteracy #ad

What is OTC Literacy?  OTC Literacy is an educational campaign from Scholastic in partnership with the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), developed to increase knowledge about over-the-counter medicine safety.  In order to evaluate the level of OTC medicine safety awareness among the nation’s tweens and their parents, two national surveys were conducted as part of the OTC Literacy program.  One was given to 1,100 tweens and the other was given to 600 parents.  Results showed that parents often overestimate their tween‘s knowledge about OTC responsible use, such as the risks associated with not taking OTC medicine as directed.  What else did the surveys reveal?

  • Tweens answered just 37 percent of questions correctly when asked how to use OTC medicines responsibly.
    • Only about half, or 54 percent, of tweens surveyed know OTC medicine can be dangerous when misused.
    • On the flip side, parents tend to overestimate their tweens knowledge, believing their tweens know who to ask if they have a question about medicine (75 percent), whether or not it’s ok to share OTC medicine with friends (73 percent) and the risks of not using OTC medicines as directed (68 percent).
  • When asked about the difference between prescription and OTC medicines, tweens answered just 56 percent of questions correctly.
    • 67 percent of tweens surveyed incorrectly believe they can use someone else’s prescription medicines if he or she has the same symptoms.
    • Parent assumptions of tween knowledge was similar to tween test results, with 58 percent believing their tween would understand the difference between prescription and OTC medicines.
  • When tested on how to read a Drug Facts label correctly, tweens only answered 53 percent of the questions correctly.
    • Just 31 percent of tweens surveyed know it is not safe to take more medicine than what is directed on the label.
    • 50 percent of parents admit they don’t believe their tween knows how to read a Drug Facts label on an OTC medicine.
  • Tweens correctly answered only 49 percent of questions relating to safe storage of medicines.
    • 52 percent of parents surveyed admit they don’t believe their tweens know how to safely store medicines.

Parents play a critical role in helping their tweens learn to be responsible about the use of OTC medicines.  In fact, many of the parents who were surveyed were unsure if OTC-related issues were taught in their tweens‘ school.  Since National Health Education Standards, which include OTC literacy lessons, are not required to be taught in U.S. schools, it is important for those of us who are parents and guardians to educate and teach the safe use and storage of OTC medicines with our tweens.

Moreover, this early education about responsible medication use is a crucial step in fostering a broader understanding of substance abuse and addiction. By instilling a foundation of responsible decision-making regarding over-the-counter medications, parents can contribute to their tweens’ overall awareness of the potential risks associated with substance use. While focusing on OTC medicines, this proactive approach can serve as a gateway to discussing the broader topic of drug abuse and addiction.

For those seeking information and support in addressing drug abuse and addiction, valuable resources such as rehabnear.me can offer guidance and assistance on the journey to recovery, emphasizing the importance of early education and intervention in promoting a healthier future for our tweens.

Do you talk with your children about OTC safety?
What do you think of the results of these surveys?

This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are mine.



About Has 2245 Posts

Shannon Gurnee is the author of Redhead Mom formerly "The Mommy-Files", a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

31 Responses to “What Do Our Tweens Know About OTC Literacy?”

  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    I still hand out meds to my tween, so I am pretty sure he knows nothing about them.

  2. Kiddo knows that she is not to take any medicine without out consent. I do keep it all in the bathroom and she’ll ask for help when she feels like she needs something. Her dad, grandparents, aunts are all medical so she’s been hearing about dos and donts since birth.

  3. Debbie Denny says:

    Great info here. I think parents need to be in control of meds all the time.

  4. Shell says:

    This is one of those things that I think a parent definitely needs to think long and hard about what they are going to teach their child about. Too much information may not be any better than too little. Great post!

  5. JEANINE says:

    This is great info! I would never think to even let my tween take Meds with out me. He asks and I have it all tucked away!

  6. Dawn says:

    This is a great post. I know adults who have a whole “medicine swap” thing going on. “X is happening with you right now? Well, I’ve got Y medicine left over from such and such. You can have it.” Yeesh! O_O

  7. Kecia says:

    I still have young children (4 and 1), so I have never considered what tweens know about OTC medications. Hmm, my 13 year old cousin probably knows a good bit since she has a peanut allergy and has to keep an Epi-Pen with her, just in case. I can see myself giving meds to my sons until they are teens, but it would be good that they know more about them.

  8. Nina Say says:

    I’m very strict about all of our OTC meds. It is way too dangerous to not take it seriously.

  9. My kids are 1, 5, and 6, so they still get their medicine handed to them. I will definitely teach OTC safety, though!

  10. Theresa says:

    Like Robin, I also still hand over the medicines when they need them, so I don’t think they are too bright about the subject. They do know not to get into them without permission, but that’s probably as far as their knowledge goes.

  11. Catherine S says:

    This is really great information. We always told our son not to take any medication with asking us. That was about the only discussion we had on the subject. After reading this we probably should have talked more about it.

  12. I don’t have children, but people are always warned not to leave prescription in the medicine cabinet as ironically ‘guests’ often ‘pilfer’ them. (no pun intended, well maybe sort of) but I do agree discussing OTC with your children is a good idea!

  13. Amanda says:

    This is really good information. My son knows he has to ask for permission, but I think I should talk to hi more about it.

  14. Debra says:

    My kids are small – but they know they aren’t to touch medicine and that it isn’t a drink or candy. We also keep it in closet, up high where they can’t reach it.

  15. Rosey says:

    The stats on that are atrocious. And you know outside of the kids seeing me read a label to ensure an accurate dose, I don’t think I’ve ever talked to them about OTC safety. Oy! What a thing to miss, I won’t miss it now.

  16. Melinda says:

    my teen and tween still ask about dosage. They won’t take anything without talking to me first.

  17. I worry about this! I definitely need to toddler proof our home!

  18. I made sure my kids knew they were never to take any medication unless i gave it to them. Vitamins were included in our discussions. Just because they look like candy does not mean they are not dangerous.

  19. Tracey says:

    This is really smart information to share with kids. Thanks for bringing awareness to this issue.

  20. I think it’s about time I have a talk with my oldest, she’s only 7-years old but I’m thinking the earlier I have the talk the better.

  21. I have an anti medicine daughter, which can be frustrating. I always pay attention to dosage, but it is really hard to get her to take medicine when she needs it.

  22. Veronica says:

    I don’t even think there is any medicine in our house. We are blessed to be healthy and we use Essential Oils

  23. My boys are 6 and 2, so not there yet, but will for sure talk with them.

  24. I don’t have tweens yet. But definitely something I need to think about when they get older.

  25. Shell says:

    This post made me realize I haven’t talked to my kids about them. I just give them what they need. I should really talk to them about it!

  26. Felicia says:

    This is great info to know. Thank you for sharing!

  27. Chasing Joy says:

    I’ve never really given OTC drugs much thought. They can be just as dangerous as Rx if taken incorrectly or misused. Very important to teach kids all about them.

  28. Jessica says:

    I didn’t know what OTC literacy was either! So super important!

  29. kristin says:

    This is so important especially for teens. I’m not looking forward to those years, they say parenting gets easier. I say it never does, it just changes in how you parent which that is more difficult. Great advice here!

  30. Brandy says:

    My kids grew up with various medicine around the home, Aj was on meds before for bipolar and for sleep. He is now med free, but I haven’t been a mom who even takes any medicines,I do a natural route, but def talk to my kids about medicines and safety often.

  31. Donna says:

    Nothing. He is twelve, but he hasn’t taken any kind of medication OTC or otherwise in over 3 years (*knocks wood*), so I’ve really not thought about it. If and when he does need to take something for some reason, I’ll be sure to talk to him about it, though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *