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According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, 91% of girls use Facebook regularly, and 38% have a Twitter account where they average eight tweets per day. Even if they aren’t on social media themselves, girls hear about it all the time. News channels quoting celebrities’ and politicians’ Twitter feeds, friends at school sharing funny memes and YouTube videos, and chances are you’ve posted photos from family events on Facebook or Instagram at least once. Despite age restrictions and privacy on many platforms, social media is a very influential part of most girls’ lives starting at a young age. Social media can be an exciting place for girls’ to explore identity and find their voice—but it can also be gateway to miscommunication and intense bullying. Whether it’s a negative or positive experience depends upon the boundaries you set up ahead of time, so if an issue comes up, you’ve already established communication with your girl.
Luckily, we already have some excellent resources for leaders and parents to help them guide their girls to make wise choices and keep up with the generations born in the Age of the Internet that use emoticons as part of their everyday vernacular (yes, I’m one of them).
- Social Media Rules for Kids: Check out this blog post from Girl Scouts of the USA on navigating social media with your girl. One point includes setting up social media and technology house rules for the whole family (including parents!). If you’re a leader, you can adapt these to creating rules for your troop, like putting phones away during meetings.
- Volunteer Essentials: Online Safety: A useful safety activity checkpoint
- Girl Scouts’ Internet Safety Pledge: Discuss and have girls sign the pledge. You can also download the PDF version and print a copy for girls and their guardians to sign.
- Who’s That Girl? Image and Social Media Tips for Parents: Be prepared on how to guide your girl through the possible pitfalls of social networking and set healthy communication boundaries with these tips the Girl Scout Research Institute.
- Who’s That Girl? Image and Social Media Tips for Girls: Same tips as above, written directly to girls. This is another great resource to print out and use as a jumping board to talk about social media with your girl.
- StopBullying.gov: Cyberbullying manifests in different ways than traditional bullying. Find out how to recognize it, prevent it, and report it when you see it. These resources are available in English and Spanish.
Other key points:
- Girl Scouts should only use their first names when posting online.
- A Girl Scout’s last name, address, phone number, and email address should never be posted.
- Make sure all minors are photo released before sharing on social media, even if it’s in a place like a private FB group.
Be proactive and stay updated on the privacy policies of popular social media platforms so you know what they do to protect their users, and what kind of support they can be expected to offer in the case of harassment, privacy leaks, or other concerns. Every social media platform constantly updates their policies and changes aspects of the user experience, so you’ll need to check in a few times a year. With the right boundaries in place, social media can be a fun place for Girl Scouts to communicate with their friends, share higher award projects, make troop travel plans, reach new customers for Fall and Cookie product sales, discover new interests, and more!
What to do next:
- Learn more about navigating social media with your girl in this video from the GSUSA Raising Awesome Girls series.
- If you haven’t already, check out our Girl Scout’s Guide to the Internet for Volunteers.
If you have questions about these guidelines or would like more clarification, our Marketing and Communications team would be happy to help you. You can reach us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or via direct message on any of GSNorCal’s social media sites—you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Throughout the year, I’ll be sharing more tips for navigating the internet and helping your Girl Scouts stay safe online, so if you have any questions or topics you’d like me to touch on, let me know in the comments section below!
Ashley Redfield—Ashley is the Digital Marketing and Social Media Coordinator for Girl Scouts of Northern California, where she’s constantly planning, creating, and managing awesome content for social media. After graduating from Mills College (a women’s college in Oakland), Ashley joined the Girl Scout movement where she loves being part of a team that helps girls unlock their potential and continuing that legacy of women’s leadership. She has spent much of her life exploring Northern California, especially the Bay Area, so when not behind a blue-lit screen, you’ll probably find her hiking through a local park or at a café planning her next road trip.