Time needed: 30–40 minutes
Everyone has their own point of view, shaped by their experiences, environment, and personality. Your point of view, in turn, shapes how you interpret experiences and information. Our point of view comes across both online and offline. Bias is a belief or opinion that affects how we perceive and treat others—it can be an aversion or a preference. Sometimes we know our opinion or belief is biased; that’s known as conscious bias. Sometimes the bias is unconscious, which can lead us to instantly connect stereotypes or attitudes with certain groups of people based on their identity. Online, for example, this could be something like a body positivity account that only features people of one body type.
All digital content is created by people with their own viewpoints and biases. It can exist in the message that’s being shared and also within the platform sharing it. Think about ads or products for women that only come in pink—that’s a stereotype. A stereotype is a characteristic or trait—whether positive or negative—that is associated with an identity group. It is often an oversimplification or exaggeration. Much of the digital world is created with algorithms or sets of instructions. Algorithms recommend videos, search for information, and analyze data. Some algorithms tell the computer what to do with data—what to look for, what to flag, or what to recommend. If the person writing the code has a bias, conscious or unconscious, they might write a biased algorithm. Or if the data computed by the algorithm is biased, then the result will be biased, too.
Monitoring what you see and share online is an important part of digital leadership.
Misinformation is information that is incorrect or false but presented as true. It’s often intentionally created and spread digitally. Make sure the messages you share are positive, helpful, honest, and inclusive. By thoughtfully managing your digital landscape, you can make it safe, kind, and fair.
Have you ever seen an ad or a post from someone you know that made you feel bad about yourself by comparison? How does what you see online have an impact on you personally and on your community?
First, consider how edited, filtered, or touched-up photos can create unrealistic standards. Look at the photos in magazines, newspapers, and digital media like zines, videos, and websites. Do they look edited, filtered, touched up, or changed in any way? Do they look too good to be true?
Comparing yourself to what you see in magazines or online isn’t fair or helpful because much of what you are seeing isn’t real. To create a more intentional online experience, look carefully at your social media feeds, apps, and any other forms of digital media. Identify examples of bias, stereotyping, and misinformation in the form of manipulated images, posts, articles, or other content. Analyze what messages they send. What do they want you to believe? How do they want you to feel? What do they want you to do?
Then brainstorm ways you can protect yourself and help others. How can you stay away from negative messages or comparisons? Can you mute or stop following accounts in your feed? Can you point out misinformation or bias? What can you post or share to uplift other people? How can you help yourself and others have a better online experience? Create a plan and put it into action. That’s how you become a digital leader that makes a safe and inclusive digital world for all.
Check out these ideas to be a leader online and offline:
Download the Badge Requirements.
Troop Leaders: The instructions for all badge steps are available free of charge in the Girl Scout Volunteer Toolkit.
Girl Scout Activity Zone activities have been adapted from existing Girl Scout programming.
Adapted from Step 2 of the Ambassador Digital Leadership badge. Purchase the official badge booklet to complete all requirements and earn the badge.
Made possible by a generous grant from Instagram.