How girls are building survival skills to navigate the digital wilderness

girls with phones
Phones. Tablets. Laptops.

Snapchat. Instagram. Texting.

Fake news. Selfie perfection. Sexting.

Yup – it’s a digital minefield out there for girls. With countless options for connecting, sharing and shaping their identity online, there’s a lot for them to navigate. Yet, girls are digital trailblazers. They know their stuff, they’re early adopters – and they’re well aware of the importance of building survival skills for the digital wilderness.

While many girls are embracing the digital sphere to create their own stories and express themselves in positive ways, the digital world throws a ton of challenges their way, often affecting their self-esteem and connections with others. Consider what our recent survey of teenaged girls revealed:

  • 25% of girls have felt pressured to write or post sexy or provocative things about themselves on social media
  • 55% of girls agree that trying to meet social media expectations about how they should look or act has negatively impacted their self-esteem. This is strongest among heavy users of social media at 71%
  • 93% of girls use more than one social media platform on a regular basis – while 12% regularly use as many as six

While suggesting to girls that they just unplug, disconnect and go screen-free is a great idea from time to time, it’s not a realistic solution. For many girls, there’s no distinction between their offline and online lives. Girls see digital technology as an essential – and often fun – part of their everyday lives. While most are pretty confident and savvy in their tech skills, girls have told us that being online puts pressure on them to look and act in a certain way. They also worry about these pressures and their safety. Girls truly want to strengthen their digital know-how so that they’re empowered to navigate the digital world they live in. Enter Girl Guides of Canada’s new digital literacy program, DeCode.

decode crestCreated with the experts at MediaSmarts, DeCode focuses on supporting girls in critically assessing their digital world, particularly how girls are represented and treated in digital media. Through activities that cover a range of topics – setting secure passwords, how to assess what’s real and what’s fake online, the pressure to convey a perfect digital identity, and discussions on sexting for older girls –  DeCode gives girls next-level digital know-how.

Through Guiding, girls can build their personal portfolio of skills – whether it’s financial literacy, mental wellness, or self-acceptance. Learning how to be safe online, protect their digital identities, avoid hoaxes and fake content, and how to navigate intimate relationships in the digital sphere is a pretty much Stuff You Need to Know 101 for girls in 2018.

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