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MTV relies on mobile app to combat cyberbullying

As part of National Bullying Prevention Month, MTV released a new iPhone and iPad application that calls on young people to draw the line between innocent and inappropriate. 

The application is social media-enabled, allowing users to connect with the Over the Line community where members share, read, rate and discuss personal stories about how mobile phones and social networking sites are impacting their lives.

?Digital abuse is an issue that essentially affects our entire audience ? in a study we conducted with AP, we found that 50 percent of young people have been the victims of digital abuse,? said Jason Rzepka, vice president of public affairs at MTV, New York. ?Over the Line is a resource and safe space where they can share their stories, provide support and feedback to one another, and know that they?re not alone.?

Cyberbullying on the rise
The new application was designed specifically to help combat cyberbullying, per MTV.

Although digital abuse and cyberbullying have been ongoing issues among young people, the recent wave of suicides by gay teens who have been subjected to harassment because of their sexuality has brought renewed focus to the problems.

The application is a follow-up to the popular Over the Line online and Facebook application ? which to date has had over 120,000 users, with thousands of user-submitted stories rated more than 250,000 times since its launch in May.

Bigger picture
The Over the Line applications were created as part of MTV?s ?A Thin Line? campaign. It is a multi-year effort empowering America?s youth to identify, respond to and stop the spread of digital abuse.

Digital abuse is a pervasive issue that includes behaviors like sexting, cyberbullying and digital dating abuse ? which affect a large majority of young people today.

MTV built a coalition of the foremost authorities on these topics and is engaging its audience through public service announcements, integration into MTV's top-rated shows and via online and mobile tools.

Young people nationwide have responded in force and at least half a million have already taken action as a result of the campaign, per MTV.

?The initial idea for this tool came from research we did asking young people how they defined digital abuse,? Mr. Rzepka said. ?The overall view was extremely nuanced and there was a lot of gray area surrounding this issue ? when determining whether something was considered cyberbullying or digital abuse, many responded that it depends on the specific situation.  

?Over the Line is meant to be used as a way to help teens define what behaviors are appropriate and recognize those that aren?t,? he said. 

?Knowing that the Millennial generation is connected 24/7, we wanted to make sure they could tap into the site and get feedback from peers, even when they?re on the go.? 

Final take
Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor of Mobile Marketer
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