NEW YORK – The popular children's television network Nickelodeon is the latest voice to raise awareness of digital bullying.
Nick, the most-watched TV network among kids ages 2 to 14, will begin an on-air public service campaign Monday featuring some of its stars offering advice on what young people should do when confronted with hostile texts, emails or Facebook posts.
The advice offered in one ad featuring Ashley Argota of "True Jackson, VP" and Gage Golightly of "The Troop": Sign off the computer; don't reply to a hostile messenger; block bullies from access; make a copy of the message to show to an adult you trust.
"It's not tattle-telling," Golightly says. "It's standing up for yourself."
The issue has received national attention after the suicides of teenagers who were cyberbullying victims. President Barack Obama held a White House conference on bullying earlier this month. Nick is collaborating with the advocacy group Common Sense Media, which has also worked with MTV and the Disney Channel on spreading the word about the issue.
The hope is that the anti-bullying effort can become as pervasive and successful as campaigns calling for a designated driver who has not consumed alcohol when friends are out drinking, said James Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, which offers reviews and advice for parents.
Miranda Cosgrove and Nathan Kress of Nick's "ICarly" are also participating in the campaign, which will last for two years, said Marva Smalls, Nick's executive vice president for public affairs.
"We are happy that our talent agreed to be a part of it because that would make it resonate even more for kids," Smalls said.
Half of young people ages 14-24 said they had been the victim of cyberbullying, according to a survey conducted in late 2009 for The Associated Press and MTV.
"We have to be laser-focused on finding solutions to the issue of cyberbullying," Steyer said.
Nickelodeon is an important partner for its ability to reach kids as they're just starting to use the Internet and cellphones, he said. Nick is also publicizing Common Sense's "Rule of the Road" for online behavior, urging young users to guard their privacy and assume that everyone in the world can see whatever they are posting.
Nick will also host a discussion board and have information available on its web page devoted to parents who want to learn about the issue.