Photo by Anh Ðào Kolbe for Teen Voices
On July 5, Seventeen magazine, ABC Family, Verizon Wireless, and teen fashion retailer Charlotte Russe launched a campaign to increase youth awareness about online bullying. They are reaching out to teens and parents in several ways:
- A new ABC Family Original movie, “Cyberbully,” which first aired on July 17.
- A special August issue of Seventeen, in which ABC Family stars share their experiences with bullying.
- The Rally to Delete Digital Drama on July 14 at the Americana at Brand in Glendale, CA. The event included appearances by Shay Mitchell (“Pretty Little Liars”), Daren Kagasoff (“The Secret Life of the Amerian Teenager”), Emily Osment (“Cyberbully”), and other ABC Family actors.
- The Charlotte Russe special-edition [delete] t-shirt.
- A Verizon text fundraiser; customers can pledge support by texting “DELETE” to 3332.
- New Seventeen and ABC Family web pages devoted to the campaign, which include a Delete Digital Drama badge you can add to your Facebook page.
Taking Action for the Ladies
The Delete Digital Drama campaign is reaching teens through all the right channels, and it’s especially relevant to teenage girls. According to the Washington Post (September 1, 2011), adolescent girls are far more likely to engage in cyberbullying than boys. For this reason, it’s especially important that girl-oriented media like Seventeen Magazine, and female-clothing stores like Charlotte Russe, take action on this issue. These outlets have the potential to reach bullies and victims alike, helping everyone to understand and take action against cyberbullying. We applaud all of the companies involved for putting together a smart campaign.
But Isn’t It Ironic?
While outlets like Seventeen are working to prevent cyberbullying, you have to wonder how much these same companies unintentionally contribute to girl-on-girl hostility, jealousy, and low self-esteem. With articles like “The Bitchy Girl Moves That Guys Hate,” and an excessive focus on beauty, fashion, and dating, Seventeen and other mainstream mags promote a materialistic, boy-obsessed, looks-before-brains ideal. That’s not to say that Seventeen doesn’t also promote some very positive values, like healthy living and education. Some Seventeen articles are great! But don’t you think girls would learn to be more accepting of themselves and others if the mainstream media promoted a broader image of what’s normal?
Teen Voices commends the Delete Digital Drama campaign in their efforts to heighten awareness about cyberbullying – and we certainly hope they succeed. We also wonder just how far these types of campaigns can go, when the root causes of cyberbullying may be in part be encouraged by the very companies working to prevent it.
Hmm. What do you think? Do you think mainstream media outlets contribute culture of bullying by focusing on beauty and competitiveness? What is their responsibility to help girls accept themselves and treat others with respect?