Online Safety for Adolescent Girls: Workshops for young women and girls

The Adolescent Girls and Their Bodies program was developed by Women and Their Bodies with the support of the National Insurance Institute Fund for Development of Services for Children and Youth at Risk, and the Israel Internet Association. The program addresses a variety of topics related to the body, health, and healthy sexuality of young girls with an emphasis on internet dangers and safety. The program offers workshops across the country for groups of young women and girls, education and health professionals, and parents. The content of the workshops is adapted to religion, culture, age and language (Hebrew, Arabic, Russian).

Program content: Workshop series for adolescent girls

The program deals with the online world and its place in the lives of adolescent girls in relation to their health, body and sexuality, through a series of 8-10 workshop sessions, once a week, for two academic hours each, in groups of up to 15 participants. The program is for 11 to 18-year-old adolescents and for 18 to 25-year-old young women, with age-appropriate content. The workshop is conducted by a skilled and experienced group facilitator from the WTB team, suited to the nature and cultural background of the group, and using diverse tools. The contents and order of the sessions are determined by the facilitator according to the nature of the group. All the facilitators have completed a full course of training (400 class hours) in group facilitation from one of the recognized academic institutions, and comprehensive training in the organization.
We recommend conducting in parallel a short workshop (3 sessions) for the professional team working with the girls so that they can continue to handle these important issues during and after our workshop series.

The series includes content on:

Building an online identity: An emphasis on building an identity during a period of defining developmental, physical and emotional changes. Development of critical thinking about the internet and its influence, and discussion of questions such as: what comprises my identity in the physical space and what comprises my internet identity; where do my online searches take me; how much, why and what is its good or bad influence on me. To what extent is my self-image related to how many likes I get, what is the relationship between likes and love, direct reactions and contact and/or WhatsApp, to what extent do I give expression to who I am online? In what way? What would I change? (1-2 sessions)
Body image: Discussion on the ideal female image that is reflected on social networks and media, and how it relates to our body and self-image. How can we develop a healthy body image, which has a significant influence on our safety and self-perception? The selfie – a tool of empowerment or repression? My virtual reflections, do I look like my selfie/Instagram? Publishing my photos and videos online, where and what to beware of? A look at the beauty industry and its influence on the collective and individual body image, my ability as an adolescent girl to change, find inner balance and satisfaction with who I am, in a world packed with visual, unequivocal messages (2 sessions).
Healthy sexuality: Sexuality is a central issue in our lives, and it is especially significant during adolescence. Girls and young women often don’t have the answers to many questions that trouble them. The vast amount of online information is often unreliable and even dangerous. Self-perception and body image go through a process of change influenced by the internet, as does sexuality. The influence of screens changes the perceptions of adolescent girls about themselves, their bodies, their ability to love themselves and love in general. The workshops encourage open, honest and unapologetic discussion on all the questions and issues that trouble them, related to sexuality, contraception, safe sex, unwanted pregnancy, abortions, and also more intimate questions regarding passion, desire, what kind of relationship is right for me, what are my boundaries? How does the internet influence the way I perceive my sexuality? What are the red flags that can help me identify relationships that are violent, dependent, harmful, exploitative? Sexting – good or bad? What is online sexual abuse and sexual harassment? How we can identify what is safe for us (3-4 sessions).
Promoting a heathy lifestyle: Eating, sleeping, physical activity, mental health and reducing stress. The internet is part of our daily lives, what unique influence does it have – good and bad. The sessions will focus on the vast amount of content available online, how to navigate it, how to minimize dangers and also how to use it to gain beneficial knowledge and opportunities (1-2 sessions).
Healthy eating habits and eating disorders: Our relationship with food is complex. An important aspect of dealing with this issue is the risk to young girls through online forums and communities that encourage eating disorders and increases self-harm through comments on social media or online challenges. We will talk about the place of food in our lives, eating in family and social contexts, nutritional requirements of adolescence, and warning signs of eating disorders (1-2 sessions).
Recognizing online dangers: The content in this unit is integrated in all the above topics, and we will also have a separate session or two dedicated to this as needed, focused on characterizing the existing dangers – how to increase online safety without it affecting our enjoyment. A discussion of online dangers – the scope, its power to act as an amplifier and capability for mass circulation, spread of fake news, bullying and the potential of emotional damage online and more. We will also discuss the capability for good, while going more in-depth on content and warning signs. We will also create our own positive, empowering online content (1-2 sessions).

For more information and to book workshops:
Contact Mitti Weinbach, workshop coordinator: mitti.wein@gmail.com