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Demands for improving online safety continue to capture headlines, often for the worst reasons.. While this outcry has signalled renewed interest in “stamping out” cyberbullying and reinvigorated health and wellbeing protocols for young people, interventions continue to fall behind the fast-paced development of communication devices and the take-up of new social media by teenagers.

The focus on gender in “next step” interventions is noticeably absent. Intervention protocols have viewed teenage girls’ and boys’ online interaction as more or less the same. This is a mistake. Teenage girls, especially those aged 12 to 14, are more likely than any other demographic to experience cyberbullying, and anxiety and depression after bullying episodes.

A greater focus on the friendship practices of teenage girls offers possibilities for developing new strategies for reducing cyberbullying among friends.

Intervention should be tailored

Online participation differs significantly for girls and boys. They spend similar amounts of time online and both use technology to search for information, interact with others, and play games. But girls spend more time socialising with friends.

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