Healthy Media for Girls

There's no question...we live in a media saturated world. And for our youth, media can define how they see reality. If you ask a room-ful of teens what percentage of the adult population they think smokes, you get answers anywhere from 75% to 90%. They think everyone smokes. The reality is that less than 25% of adults smoke. But you see a child's view of reality is so much more strongly influenced by the media than an adult's is. And if you think about the last time you went to the's hard to find one in which someone doesn't light up.

Likewise, girls are influenced by media in how they see their bodies and themselves. The Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), formed in 2000, is a vital extension of Girl Scouts of the USA.The GSRI conducts original research, evaluation, and outcomes measurement studies, releases critical facts and findings, and provides resources essential for the advancement of the well-being and safety of girls living in today’s world. The GSRI also informs public policy and advocacy for Girl Scouting.

GSRI's Healthy Living portfolio explores girls' and youth's healthy living, including their emotional and physical safety, and reveals how they define health and safety, how they see themselves and others, and the resources they have to help them live healthy, safe lives.
Beauty Redefined: Girls and Body Image Survey (2010)
The New Normal? What Girls Say About Healthy Living (2006)
Weighing In: Helping Girls Be Healthy Today, Healthy Tomorrow (2004)

Girl Scouts of the USA, along with the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and The Creative Coalition, believe every child deserves to live in an environment that fosters confidence and character. We recognize that as children's media use continues to increase, all youth would benefit from experiencing healthy and positive messages about girls and women.

“Watch What You Watch” builds awareness about the need to pay attention to not just what kids watch, but how they watch it. Now more than ever, tools such as media literacy, public education and career exploration can be invaluable to young people. "Watch What You Watch" offers a clearinghouse of resources and tools that girls, parents, communities, and the media industry can use to help young people encounter and use media content that inspires, empowers, and engages. The PSA won the prestigious 2011 Gracie Award for Outstanding Public Service Announcement.

Today, you could Be A Voice for Girls! Support the Healthy Media for Youth Act

Social networking Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter also have infiltrated the lives of teen girls. Teens spend several hours a day posting photos and videos, status updates, and chatting with their friends. The most recent Girl Scout Research Institute research study, Who’s that Girl? Image and Social Media (2010), investigated the positive and negative impacts of social networking among 1,026 girls ages 14–17, and found that while teen girls are physically and emotionally engaged in social networking, nearly all (92%) still prefer face-to-face communication.

Teen girls present themselves in a different light on social networking sites, tending to portray themselves as fun (54%), funny (52%), and social (48%), while underplaying in-person positive characteristics such as intelligence (82% in person) and kindness (76% in person). This difference is more pronounced among girls with low self-esteem.

Additionally, the majority of teen girls (68%) report that they have had a negative experience on a social networking site, such as being gossiped about (41%), having had personal information revealed to others (28%), or being bullied (20%). Actually, 55% of teen girls admit to having been the root of negative behavior on social networking sites. Girls with low self-esteem are more likely to have negative experiences on these sites (78%).

Teen girls have good intentions about safe social networking, but fewer act on these intentions. Although 85% of teen girls report that they have had conversations with parents about safe social networking, more than half (54%) are friends with people they’ve never met, and many offer personal information such as their school name (75%) and contact information (38%) on their profiles.

Findings from this study show that teen girls need to better understand social networking privacy controls and could benefit from more and better communication with family members on safe social networking. Parents should be involved in their teens’ social networking and teen girls shouldn’t feel pressured to act differently or hide their positive attributes on these sites. Having more friends and looking cool through provocative photos could backfire, since gossiping and bullying are rampant on social networking sites.

Today, you could Be A Voice for Girls! Support the Healthy Media for Youth Act

We need your help to encourage your Members of Congress to sponsor H.R. 2513/S.1354 today!

Kids are surrounded by media. From television to movies to social media and new technologies, kids are consuming up to 10 hours of recreational media each day. Unfortunately, media doesn’t always promote healthy images of girls. Girl Scouts’ research tells us that girls are very influenced by what they see in the media, and that it can have a significant impact on their self-esteem, body image, and leadership aspirations.

To address this issue, Girl Scouts has worked with Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Senator Kay Hagan (NC) on the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 2513/S 1354).

This legislation would:
■Provide competitive grants for organizations like Girl Scouts, that provide media literacy programming and leadership development that helps empower girls.
■Support research to help us better understand the impact of media on youth development.
■Create a federal task force to develop voluntary recommendations that help the media industry put forward healthy images of women and girls.

Take action today and send a message to your U.S. Representative and Senator asking them to cosponsor this important bill that impacts all girls. ...