Monday, April 30, 2012

Girl Scouts Teach Fellow Girl Scouts the Importance of Cyber Safety

The New York Daily News reports that when Girl Scout Cadet Denise O’Leary was a Brownie, there was no such thing as Facebook. But recently, while teaching a Brownie troop about the perils of the Internet, she realized just how much times have changed.

“We weren’t as exposed to the Internet as they are now,” said the 17-year-old Girl Scout Gold Award candidate.

Denise and 100 other Girl Scouts were presented with the new “Internet Safety” fun badge at Maestro’s Caterers in the Bronx Sunday.

The event also marked the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the USA. The badge, which is earned through a Cablevision-sponsored program, teaches the dangers of cyber bullying and about the lack of privacy on the web.

The program can be used to obtain the official “netiquette” patch.

The increased exposure to social media puts teenage girls in a confusing situation where a girl’s image is not always what it seems, as nearly 74 percent of girls believe other girls their age use social networking sites to make themselves “cooler than they really are,” according to a national survey, Who's That Girl: Self Image in the 21st Century, released by Girl Scouts of the USA.

The Girl Scout survey sheds light on the fact that a majority of girls understand their emotional safety and reputations are at risk online, yet 50 percent admit to not always being as careful as they should be online. Sixty-eight percent of girls have had a negative experience on a social networking site, such as having someone gossip about them or being bullied. Furthermore, many girls are concerned that they won’t get into their college of choice (42 percent), will miss a job opportunity (40 percent) and will get into trouble with parents and teachers (40 percent).

“When we did this activity as a group, the girls couldn’t believe some of the things that had happened,” said Dandai Moreno who leads two troops in the Bronx.

The girls were warned never to divulge where they live, she said, because “next thing you know, an old man shows up at the park saying ‘hey, I’m your friend’s dad.”