New UNESCO report warns social media affects girls’ well-being, learning and career choices

The report sheds light on how social media amplifies gender stereotypes, with negative effects on girls’ well-being, learning and career choices.
09 May 2024
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A recent United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report, titled "Technology on Her Terms,” cautions that image-based content on social media, driven by algorithms, can expose girls to harmful material, such as sexual content or unrealistic body standards and could introduce risks such as privacy invasion, learning distractions, and cyberbullying.

Across OECD countries, girls experience more cyberbullying than boys, with 12% of 15-year-old girls reporting being cyberbullied compared to 8% of boys.

According to Facebook's research, Instagram exacerbates negative body image for 32% of teenage girls.

This issue is worsened by the surge in image-based sexual content, AI-generated deepfakes, and non-consensual sexual imagery online and in classrooms. 

To address these concerns, the report recommends investing in education, including media and information literacy, and smarter regulation of digital platforms, aligning with UNESCO's Guidelines for Digital Platform Governance.

The report also highlights that negative gender stereotypes discourage girls from pursuing STEM careers, leading to underrepresentation of women in the technology workforce. 

To encourage young women to choose STEM careers, policy efforts should promote role models, including those on social media. 

Increasing girls' access to STEM studies is vital for ensuring women's equal participation in digital transformation and fostering the development of inclusive technologies.

- CyberBeat


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