Teenage Girls Face Dangers Online. (Internet)

USA TODAY, June 2002 | Go to article overview
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Teenage Girls Face Dangers Online. (Internet)


When it comes to the Internet, teenage girls are extremely computer-savvy, but also emotionally vulnerable and disturbed by how frequently they are exposed to sexual content online, according to a study from the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), conducted with the assistance of Girl Games, Inc. The study, The Net Effect: Girls and New Media, researched the lives and Internet experiences of 1,246 girls, aged 13 to 18, including Girl Scouts and non-Girl Scouts.

Computer-savvy girls are considered "smart," "fun," and "social" by those in the study, and most agree that girls who do not spend time on the computer risk being regarded as unqualified for good jobs in the future. Girls use the Internet as an outlet to express intense emotions and build social self-confidence, and said they find their online experiences mainly positive, empowering, and safe.

However, the study found that sometimes they rely too much on their own judgment in making decisions about how to behave online. When asked how they know what is safe or unsafe behavior on the Internet, 84% cited their own common sense; 51% stated learning from parents; and four percent said "nothing is that bad online because it's not really real." (Multiple responses were permitted.) Unfortunately for some teenage girls, common sense does not always protect them. The Net Effect found that:

* Thirty percent of online respondents reported that they had been sexually harassed in a chat room.

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