It’s not the first time that we would be to talking about internet safety and kids on this platform, but considering how the online world distinctively affects gender is another important issue that needs some consideration. Unfortunately, girls aren’t just prone to the usual online predating and sexual temptation when they go online, they also have to deal with the unrealistic body standards and the inevitable and vicious bullying for those who don’t comply. It’s a sad online world.
We have been striving to raise our daughters that would turn out to be intelligent, positive brave and independent, but with social media, everything works in opposition to our aspirations and dreams.
As a parent, having a knowledge of all the possible perils could be one way of saving your girl from engaging in risky behaviors.
Online Predators and Catfishing
The ease with which online sexual abusers are able to get to our daughters is inexplicable. The anonymity of the internet and less stringent policies have made it all too easy for online predators to purport as some teen. These people can easily sign up on social media with fake photos to create a fake online persona which girls easily buy into. In fact, this issue is extremely perverse in nature with one out of every five users (10 to 17 years old) receiving some sort of unwanted sexual advances, already. In the worst case scenario, it could get really tense, leading to kidnapping or rape.
Sexual predators are able to lure teenagers, especially girls, on social media with their extremely professional catfishing skills, convincing them to arrange a dangerous personal meeting. What’s more appalling is the fact that around 30 percent of teenage girls have already met a stranger in person that they first met online.
Catfishing, i.e. faking your identity, is also used for less detrimental reasons like gaining access to private information, making friends, and so on. These kinds of users are usually going to stay off the radar and prefer to stick with the stuff that they receive online—it’s enough for them.
Cyberbullying may not be as bad as rape or kidnapping, but it sure leaves young girls with intense repercussions. Your child’s peers can spew raging and heartbreaking comments at them that could lead to embarrassment, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. Cyberbullying isn’t an issue that needs parents’ attention in school meetings only; it’s a state-level issue and young people aren’t the only victims. Cyberbullying may not leave any physical scarring, but it does create an impact that mentally crushes a child’s personality and puts them to isolation, emotional distress, anxiety, depression and more.
In fact, if we look at the figures for suicide rates among girls ages between 10-14, they have actually risen by 200 percent [Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. And if compared with deaths due to diseases, suicides unfortunately outnumber them.
Though there haven’t been any evidences that could link cyberbullying with suicides in young girls, but it’s not difficult to built a non-formal, non-scientific relationship. Girls, as compared to boys, are more emotional and are much better at verbal bullying (where boys tend to be more psychical), so it’s understandable why the suicide rates are rising amongst teenage girls. The shame and devastation resulting from a rumor at school could aggrandize quickly due to easy dissemination of information. Though this is not a definite answer, but it’s worthwhile to look at some possible correlation between the two, that are, cyberbullying and teen suicide rates amongst girls.
However, there have been studies proving the fact that it’s not just the bullied who is prone to a suicidal behavior, but the bullies themselves too, and that too with equal risk.
Self-esteem and Body image
Lastly, we would like to about the most important part that largely affects teen girls, i.e. body shaming and failing self-esteem. Girls feel constantly challenged to come up with something that will make them look think, cool and pretty. Social media in this case could lead to a perverse influence on your girl if she would start comparing her body with others, and especially models.
Girls can easily fall for a comparative analysis of their body and lifestyle with their peers which is nothing more than a vicious cycle of measuring up each other’s crafted lives.
This comparison particularly holds true for the issues of body image. The perfect body image as created by media and marketing organizations is realistically unattainable, and even though we all know that these images are edited before posting, our young daughters still strive to achieve the size zero figures. And while doing so, the distinction between fake and real is lost, and with that, one’s own conscience and self-esteem too. it’s also normal for girls to deprive themselves off food and nutrition to engage in self-destructive behavior.
Social media is a valuable tool for every child and deprivation is not a solution. Make sure that you are tracking your daughter’s every move closely. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc. are some great socializing tools, but they also pose their own unique threats and extreme consequences.