According to a new survey conducted by Girl Scouts of the USA, lots of teen girls are using social networking sites to communicate with their peers. This should surprise absolutely nobody.
But what might surprise some parents is the fact that when their girls go online, many of them become someone else. In an effort to appear cooler, they downplay many of their positive characteristics to present an image of a fun, funny and socially confident girl.
In a nationwide online study, over 1,000 girls ages 14–17 were polled about their online social lives. Their answered revealed that 74% of them believe that most of their peers use social networking to make themselves look cooler than they really are. 41% admit that they themselves do the exact same thing.
In person, the most popular words girls use to describe how they come across to others are smart , fun and funny. Online, smart disappears and being fun , funny and social are all that matter.
And while lots of girls certainly are fun, funny and social, the study revealed that those who suffer from low self esteem are more likely to create an online persona that doesn’t match up with who they are in person. In fact, girls with low self esteem are more likely to portray themselves as sexy and crazy online than girls with high self-esteem.
In light of all that is going on in my own house, I find this study very interesting. My own 10-year-old is too young for social networking sites, but over the past few months, she has created several personal websites for herself. The first one was smart and wordy with detailed reviews of her favorite books and movies. The second was focused mainly on girl stuff and was filled with images and lots of commentary on party dresses and hair dos. But the third one, the one whose address she shared with her friends and classmates, is totally different. It is the least representative of who she really is and contains mostly nonsense jokes and other silly stuff.
When I asked her about this third site and why she made it so different from the others, she had a ready answer: The boys in her class would never be interested in visiting a site about smart stuff. In other words, she’s pandering to the boys and I can’t help but think that’s what these older girls are doing as well.
To learn more about the survey and what it revealed about teen girls and their online behavior, visit the Girls Scouts website.
Image: Ray-Franco Bouly/Flickr
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