Report finds that more girls than boys are exposed to harmful content online

Study shows that female children are more likely to interface with harmful content online than do boys.

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The Growing Up Online report found that females, more than males, face unpleasant experiences online. The study, conducted on 6500 Irish youths, aimed to find out about the experiences of children online. It found that many had positive experiences, including listening to music, playing games and interacting with family and friends. The study also revealed that the overwhelming majority of children eight years and older had a personal phone and access to the internet. Social media platforms are usually the space of choice for many of them, with four hours being the minimal amount of time spent online. 

Of those interviewed, one in five reported having a nasty or unpleasant encounter. The girls’ complaints, however, were three times higher than the boys. A fraction of the girls complained of being asked for or sent pornographic content. Other harmful content they receive includes suicide, eating disorders and self-harm propaganda.

Why does this matter?

As educators the world over introduce existing and emerging technologies into the classroom, there is a need for relevant and appropriate policies to safeguard the extensive use by children. Parents should also be held accountable for the periods and online spaces children can access at home.