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MTV Launches Initiative to Curb Digital Abuse Among Youth

Last week Rihanna said, "If you don't send your boyfriend naked pictures, then I feel bad for him." These words rang alarms for anyone worried that youth don't understand the emerging risks associated with technology. MTV is among the parties concerned about young people's digital drama. The network is launching a multiyear initiative, called A Thin Line, to empower youth to stop the spread of "digital abuse," which includes behaviors like sexting, cyberbullying, and digital dating abuse.

Before the network started to address the problem through new television and online initiatives, MTV decided to look into what's really going on. An AP/MTV study found that 50 percent of 14 to 24 year olds have experienced digital abuse, and three in 10 have sent or received nude "sext" messages. In addition, only half of people surveyed think their actions could come back to haunt them.

So what is MTV going to do change these attitudes? To find out,

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By running PSAs, incorporating the theme into top-rated programing, and by rolling out new programs like an MTV News special report on sexting, the network and its partners (which include Facebook and MySpace) hope young people will learn how to draw the line with behavior like constant texting, sexting, spying, digital disrespect, and online cruelty. It's also awarding a $10,000 prize to the youth that comes up with the most promising idea to stop digital abuse.

Most young people today can't imagine a world without constant connection to their peers, and this connection is obviously changing everyone's sense of privacy and the way we interact with each other in general. Do you think MTV's new initiative will help young people learn to identify the problems that can arise?

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