Dr Roberta Thompson, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, GIER
Teenage girls are some of the heaviest users of social media in this country. They use it extensively to communicate with friends both in and out of school. They share stories and experiences online, post messages and images, plan social events, and regularly check friends' postings. Friendship is a central feature of their social media experience. At the same time, these experiences place them at high risk for cyberbullying and emotional distress related to these experiences. Despite these associations, online safety messages have been slow to offer explicit strategies to help teenage girls navigate friendship and social media.
In this presentation, I describe the actions, practices and interactions taken up by teenage girls aged 12 to 14 to negotiate friendship and online safety. Bringing together data from two Queensland studies, the discussion draws attention to the contradictory positions that frame teenage girls' online practice and points to competing discourses that influence the ways in which they translate online safety in friendship settings. Findings indicate friendship is a critical site for coming to understand how teenage girls' manage their online safety.