Over a third of girls say the pressure to live the perfect life online is affecting their wellbeing

  • More than a third of girls feel pressure to showcase the ‘perfect’ life online, new research by Girlguiding reveals
  • 35 per cent of girls aged 11-21 say comparing themselves to others is a major worry about time spent online
  • Research also found less than half of girls (47 per cent) felt their parents understood the pressures they face on social media.
  • Girlguiding Scotland is helping girls to overcome online pressure and feel confident through peer-led sessions on body confidence and mental health

The pressure to showcase a ‘perfect’ life online is affecting the wellbeing of girls and young women, new research from Girlguiding has revealed.

Over a third of girls as young as eleven say that comparing their lives to others is one of the greatest worries they have about spending time online.

And girls are concerned that while their parents are well aware of threats to their safety and online grooming, they are less confident in addressing this emerging trend. Less than half (47 per cent) of those questioned feel that their parents realise the pressures they face on social media.

This comes as more and more girls and young women turn to social media including Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube as recreational hobbies, engaging with both their friends and with celebrities.

35 per cent of girls aged 11 – 21 say that comparing themselves and their lives to others was one of their major worries about the amount of time spent online. The older girls get, the more of an issue it becomes, with 40 per cent of girls aged 17 – 21 citing it as their second greatest worry, after being distracted from their academic work.

A third of girls also say that they worry about how they look in photos, and a quarter say they worry that they feel the need to check their phones first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

The gap in perception of online dangers shows that parents are at risk of underestimating the impact that a life online can have on their daughters.

As the leading charity for girls and young women in Scotland, Girlguiding Scotland is empowering girls age 5 to 25 to feel confident by offering a safe space to enjoy new experiences and speak about the issues that matter to them. The charity’s peer education programme is among recent initiatives designed to boost girls’ self-esteem through peer-led Free Being Me and Think Resilient workshops that help girls explore important issues like body confidence and mental wellbeing.

Katie, 17, a Young Leader from Edinburgh, said: “Social media can be an amazing tool for young people to make their voices heard, but as these figures show, it can also take a toll on girls’ self-esteem. It’s sad to see how many girls and young women today are feeling mounting pressure online – whether they’re comparing themselves to peers or worrying about their appearance.

“Comparing yourself to others can be an easy trap for girls and young women to fall into, especially given how often we use social media to keep up with the lives of friends and celebrities. That’s why Girlguiding’s ‘Free Being Me’ body confidence workshops are so important to help girls speak up about the pressure they feel and find positive ways of dealing with it. Additionally, as ‘Free Being Me’ is delivered by Peer Educators, girls have the chance to open up and speak freely with someone closer to their own age.

“As a Young Leader with Girlguiding Scotland I feel really proud that I’m helping to provide a pressure-free space for girls, and offering them activities such as climbing which boost body confidence and show girls just how much they’re capable of. I want to see a future where all girls feel confident in who they are and raising awareness of the pressures social media can create is a really important step.”

Supporting girls to talk about the issues that matter to them and building self-esteem are just a few of the ways Girlguiding Scotland is empowering girls and young women to enjoy new experiences, learn new skills and grow in confidence with an action-packed programme for girls age 5 to 25. To find out more about joining Girlguiding Scotland as a young member or an adult volunteer visit girlguidingscotland.org.uk/get-involved/




For further information, please contact Mairi Gordon, Media and PR Officer at mairi@girlguiding-scot.org.uk or call 0131 226 4511 or 07852 554 779 (out of hours)

Notes to editors:    

  1. Statistics from Girls Attitudes’ Survey on online worries

The statistics come from Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey, the largest piece of research of girls and young women in the UK which questions over 1900 girls and young women aged 7 – 21 about their lives, beliefs and activities. The ninth Girls Attitudes Survey will be published by Girlguiding in September.

Girls and young women aged 11-21 list their top worries online as:

  1. Grooming
36 per cent
  1. How pictures of them might be used by other people
36 per cent
  1. Threats from strangers
35 per cent
  1. Comparing themselves and their lives to others
35 per cent
  1. Seeing unwanted pornography
30 per cent
  1. Bullying from people they know
27 per cent


They say they believe their parents are most worried about:

  1. Grooming
59 per cent
  1. Threats from strangers
57 per cent
  1. Being distracted from academic work
50 per cent
  1. Sexual harassment
44 per cent
  1. Bullying from people they know
43 per cent
  1. Seeing unwanted pornography
40 per cent
  1. About Girlguiding’s Peer Education resource

Free Being Me, a resource developed by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and the Dove Self-Esteem Project, has delivered 74,000 girls and young women a course in body confidence, led by a team of Peer Educators and adult Leaders who are all Girlguiding members.

Think Resilient resource, developed and delivered by Girlguiding’s Peer Educators, teaches girls and young women vital skills to build resilience and good mental wellbeing techniques.

About Girlguiding Scotland:

Girlguiding Scotland is the leading charity for girls and young women in Scotland, with 50,000 young members. We build girls’ confidence and raise their aspirations. We give them the chance to discover their full potential and encourage them to be a powerful force for good. We give them a space to have fun. Find out more at girlguidingscotland.org.uk