The Net Effect: Girls and New Media

By Whitney Roban, Ph.D. (New York, N.Y.: Girl Scouts of the USA, 2002). 131 pp. (Executive Summary, 23 pp.)

Cover of The Net EffectThe Internet is a pervasive part of girls' lives—used almost daily for communication, research and entertainment. A new study from the Girl Scout Research Institute, conducted in conjunction with Girl Games, Inc., shows, however, that many of these girls are "driving the information superhighway without a license," needing more pertinent advice and proactive guidance from parents and other adults.

The Net Effect: Girls and New Media
study examines:

Download the The Net Effect executive summary (PDF). For more information about the research, or to order a hard copy of the executive summary or full report of the study, email the Girl Scout Research Institute or call (800) GSUSA 4 U.

Girls and the Internet: Tips for Parents

The Internet is a fact of most preteen and teen girls' lives today. Parents can and should play an active role helping their daughters navigate cyberspace. Here are some tips:

  1. Talk to your daughter about safety rules for using the Internet. Her "common sense" is probably very different from yours.

  2. Discuss with your daughter what her online rules should be—how much time she can spend online, what kinds of sites she can visit, when she can be online, etc. Consider her input seriously.

  3. Know what your daughter is doing online. What kinds of sites is she visiting? Does she go into or want to go into public chat rooms? Familiarize yourself with the Internet, so you understand what she's doing.

  4. Maintain an open dialogue with your daughter about her Internet use. Be willing to compromise, but make sure she understands your concerns are for her safety.

  5. Encourage your daughter to teach you some new Internet-related skills. This could be a way to open the door to communicating about issues that might occur online.

  6. Prepare your daughter for the kinds of uncomfortable experiences she might have online, without making her feel that the Internet is a totally frightening place.

  7. Without becoming overly judgmental, help your daughter solve problems she encounters online. Make sure she knows she can come to you with those problems.
  8. Find out what your daughter's friends are doing online so you know what her Internet social reality is all about.

  9. Keep in mind the positive side of your daughter's use of the Internet. Think about her opportunities to practice her social skills, investigate topics for school, and get information she's too embarrassed to ask real people about.

  10. Be the parent—use your "parent power" to continue to influence your daughter.

Parents and girls can also use this Internet Safety Pledge from Girl Scouts of the USA.