A generation of girls under pressure
While many young people struggle with the pressures of social media, girls are facing more abuse, more harassment and more issues specifically to do with gender. They’re also more likely to be pressured into sending photos which are then shared – and to find themselves criticised, rather than those who post the images without their consent.
“It’s not really the girl's fault if she posts a photograph [and gets harassed online], it’s the people who comment the mean stuff or the negative or horrible stuff. Because what’s a girl posting a picture? It’s not harming me, it’s not harming you. It’s not the girl’s fault, it’s the person who’s bullying the girl.”
– Aisha, 17
43% of girls hold back their opinions on social media because they’re afraid of being criticised
13% of girls have stopped going on social media to avoid negative responses
83% of girls believe they should be taught how to cope with sexist, racist or other discriminatory behaviour
Protecting girls' voices online
Put together, these pressures are having a huge impact on girls. They’re censoring what they say online because they’re afraid of being criticised, and in some cases they’re removing themselves from the digital space altogether – either by their own choice, or because their parents and teachers believe it’s the best option for them to stay safe.
“I used to have a feminist account with my friends and often you’d get quite violent spam from trolls online. It was very much about your gender as opposed to what you are saying. The general advice is to come off social media and not let it get to you. It’s not done in an unkind way – it’s just the only way people know how to deal with it.” – Ambrin, 15
All statistics are from a survey conducted by Opinium for Plan UK, who asked 1,002 11-18 year olds across the UK about their experiences of social media.
If you're a young person who's been affected by these issues and you need someone to talk to, you can call Childline on 0800 1111. The NSPCC also have advice for parents and teachers about online safety on their website.