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ThatsNotCool: Where do you draw the digital line?

The etiquette of relationships (aka hooking up) has always been thorny. 

But our kids now deal with new layers of issues, far more complicated than we could have even imagined waiting by the phone or passing notes or slam books around in class.  Texts drive their communication worlds and their cell phones present new dilemmas for line drawing.

Today everyone seemed to be talking about s/textual abuse–my buddy Ken, Dr. Phil.   When I checked Twitter this evening, I saw Wendy Stephens’ tweet about

Aimed at teens, the site addresses growing real concerns our kids face in and outside their own portable digital spaces–text harassment, rumor spreading, bullying, MySpace or Facebook hacking, the pressure to share inappropriate photos.

Your cell phone, IM, and social networks are all a digital extension of who you are. When someone you’re with pressures you or disrespects you in those places, that’s not cool. is attempting to raise awareness about digital dating abuse and stop it before it gets worse. Sponsored and co-created by the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the Office on Violence Against Women and the Ad Council, the site is designed to address new and complicated problems between teens who are dating or hooking up—problems like constant and controlling texting, pressuring for nude pictures, and breaking into someone’s e-mail or social networking page.

The site includes 2-Sided Stories (videos designed to spark discussion); Call Out Cards that present heavy-duty text responses to harassers for posting on social networks or sending via email;

ThrowUpInMyMouth Download DesktopMedium ThatsNotCool: Where do you draw the digital line?    Privacy Web Browse ThatsNotCool: Where do you draw the digital line?

Talk it Out–a comment-driven issue discussion space for teens; as well as advice and a variety of resources to guide those seeking immediate help from abuse.

Share this one with with middle and high school counselors and your PTA.

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is the teacher-librarian at Springfield Township High School, a technology writer, and a blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Charles Batchelor says:

    We stumbled on the issue of text abuse last year in our early research for* This is the reason why we installed tight security on our texting-sending web service. And it’s also why we have (a non-advertised) “bad word” filter on WuduPlz. We did not want bad actors using our service. (It is next to impossible to send an anonymous message via WuduPlz.)

    In talking about WuduPlz with teachers and others who work with older kids, we found they were eager to have responsible adult voices joining the chatter on the cellphones screen of students, especially (as you discovered yourself) for middle school children. “Wuduplz can help inject a reality check,” we were told. And we made “add a reality check” a part of our pitch to parents.

    Parents to add their responsible, thoughtful words to the stream of ideas their children are seeing on the tiny cellphone screens. And if the tiny keys and small screen on their phones is a bother, you can text from your computer via and it is free and safe.

    I’d love to hear feedback.

    Charles Batchelor

    * WuduPlz (Would You Please) is a new, free web service built to help parents teach teens and preteen cooperation, responsibility & commitment. OK…and to get them to what they are suppose to do. (Never easy because, well, they’re kids…) It uses text messaging–a proven 21st Century way to connect with kids.

    Sure, as our web site says, it’s easier and faster texting if you’re at your computer.

    But, to make it more useful, WuduPlz can also deliver messages LATER to provide useful reminders. As one reviewer noted, with WuduPlz, “each family member with a cellphone is carrying around a little alarm clock that Mom or Dad can set to go off with a little note. Very handy.”

    We selected the name WuduPlz carefully. In assigning tasks, teenagers should not feel victimized or punished, says Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, adolescent medicine specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “You want them to understand that the freedoms they get are directly related to how they demonstrate responsibility.” WuduPlz is designed to help parents teach this lesson.

  2. Jean M says:

    Cyberbullying has been a topic of discussion on our school’s tech-forum and this just might be one tool to share with parents. I would be interested in hearing other experiences with WuduPlz. I can see it being useful for my own daughter away at college with helpful reminders.

  3. hello says:

    Keep in mind that isn’t exactly taking on cyber bullying. With cyber bullying, there is an enemy. It’s clearly you vs. the bully. But with digital dating abuse, it’s between two people that are “intimate.” Neither wants to confront the other about these issues at such a young age.

  4. joycevalenza says:

    Good point, hello. Thank you for clarifying.

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