A Griffith University study into teen girls’ online behaviour has found they understand the rules of cybersafety but choose to flout those rules, especially when communicating with close friends.
Dr Roberta Thompson from the School of Education & Professional Studies surveyed 130 13-year-old Queensland girls as part of her PhD.
She found while they understand the rules around cybersafety they often modify them to improve communication between their friends and peers.
“They knew they shouldn’t share passwords, for example, but would with their friendship group,’’ Dr Thompson (pictured below) said.
“The daily challenges of managing and negotiating the routines, rituals and rules of everyday interaction appeared to be more concerning for these girls than cyberbullying and sexting.”
She said the study revealed important policy implications surrounding issues of cybersafety.
“While teen girls are well aware of cybersafety recommendations, these practices often contradict the obligations and expectation of friendship.
“Parents and teachers need to translate general cybersafety recommendations into online specific practices which support teen girls’ everyday experience with peers and close friends.”
She found striking a balance between adult support and enjoying online autonomy with friends was not straightforward.
“The girls were adamant about online privacy, especially with friends. Privacy breaches by adults were keenly discouraged. At the same time, most of them wanted adult support when online situations became difficult.
“The dual need for independence and support requires a level of active adult involvement that goes beyond monitoring, surveillance and general rule enforcement.”