That's Not Cool

January 28, 2009

In the wake of the recent publicity and concerns over the seemingly widespread practice of sexting, comes a great new campaign and web site from the Ad Council – ThatsNotCool.

Sponsored and co-created by the Family Violence Prevention Fund and the Office on Violence Against Women, ThatsNotCool is designed to address some of the new problems that have arisen among teens because of the ever-present technology and social networking tools that now populate their lives. Problems like constant and controlling texting, pressuring for nude pictures, and breaking into someone's e-mail or social networking page.

With clever use of video clips, the site describes scenes and scenarios that, sadly, are all-too-familiar to many of today’s teens. Some of the clips finish by offering choices on how the viewer should deal with the various scenarios, and they then explore the consequences of each decision.

The site also has advice and tips on “textual harassment”, pic pressure, constant messaging, and rumor mongering, as well as message boards and chat room for teens to share their experiences.

Interestingly, the folks behind ThatsNotCool have publicly stated that eighth and ninth graders are the core audience for their campaign. Yes, that’s 13 to 15-year olds! Those are the dangerous years, when technological expertise runs far ahead of smart decision-making.

Although primarily set up to talk directly to kids, the web site is an essential destination for parents who are often totally unaware of what’s happening in their child’s 24-hour digitally connected world.  As a start, every parent should check out this excellent video, which is posted on the ThatsNotCool guest video page.

The problem of boyfriend or girlfriend harassment is not new. What is different today is the technology that allows such behavior to apply almost constant pressure and reach far beyond the privacy of one individual relationship.

The Online Mom

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