Support young girls’ wellbeing

Guidance for parents & carers of 9-10-year-old girls

Late nights, the fear of missing out (FOMO) and body image all contribute to significant negative impacts on 9-10-year-old girls’ wellbeing.

Click below to jump to a topic or scroll to explore them all.

Four girls sit on a sofa smiling at their smartphones or tablet, supporting their wellbeing with friends.

Managing screen time to support young girls’ wellbeing

There are two areas of screen time impacting 9-10-year-old girls: the length of time they spend online and how they spend that time.

Supporting girls’ wellbeing isn’t as simple as setting limits through parental controls, though it helps. Instead, talk to them about how they feel about the time spent online.

Together, create limits through parental controls, wellbeing apps and family agreements. As you do, make sure you keep having conversations to check-in on their digital lives and wellbeing. If they need support, they are more likely to reach out if they know you are there to listen.

Icons on a balancing scale to show how to support girls' wellbeing. One side has a games controller, smartphone with influencer, thumbs up, heart and hash. The other side shows an ereader table, light bulb for idea and music playing app.

Support balanced use

Research shows that how a child uses their devices is often more important than how much time they spend on them. For example, passive scrolling on social media is likely less fulfilling than creating digital art or learning a skill.

As a part of setting screen time limits, work with them to set a schedule for how much time they spend in different areas. Passive scrolling may still have a place, but that is unlikely to need as much time as time spent on homework, playing a video game or practising a skill.

Digital image of mum with glasses and a blue check icon.

Things to remember

Changing how they interact with their devices will take time. So, remember to keep talking and checking in while remaining patient and understanding.

Help children learn how to to balance screen time and where to get help when needed. Choose the Health, Wellbeing and Lifestyle topic to get started.


What research says about screen time

Screen time and girls’ wellbeing

The previous Index saw 26% of girls in this age group staying up late on digital devices. With the second Index, this number rose to 45%. Additionally, 49% of girls said they rewatch programmes or play computer games despite not enjoying themselves. This is an increase from 34% in the previous year.

One reason for the late nights could relate to when they’re able to use devices. During online schooling, children may have had more opportunity to use devices throughout the day. With most school now being in person, children’s device use might be limited to time after school, resulting in late nights.

See the full Index report for 2023.

Managing girls’ fear of missing out (FOMO)

The pressure to stay up-to-date on their friends’ activity on social media leads to negative impacts on girls’ wellbeing and feelings of missing out.

A sad face with fingers pointing at it to show peer pressure along with a speech bubble to support girls wellbeing by talking about pressures.

Talk about the pressure

Girls in this age group might feel the pressure to achieve a certain amount of likes or views online. Or, they might feel left out if they miss something all of their friends saw. Additionally, young girls might worry that being ‘out of the loop’ could lead to bullying from classmates and friends at school.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to talk to them about how they feel. Let them speak about why they feel the need to stay online. If this need has lead to more screen time, ask them about how it makes them feel afterward. Do they feel fulfilled?

These conversations don’t just help you understand their thought process. Instead, they help your child really think about the behaviours and how they make them feel. This awareness can help them realise the need for support and change.

Happy face with purple thought bubble to show mindfulness that can support girls' wellbeing online.

Explore mindfulness and wellness

Learning to be more mindful of their own emotions can help girls’ wellbeing in positive ways. You can do this through regular conversations in peaceful places such as walking through a park. Or, you can use other resources such as therapy, online communities and purposeful apps. Their school may even have their own offerings to support mental health.

You can explore our guide to wellbeing apps to help. There are apps to help manage anxiety, to learn about emotions and more, which could be a good way to start.

A bearded dad with a purple check icon.

Things to remember

Remember that things which work for one child may not work for yours, so it’s important to talk with them about what they need.

Most importantly, give them time to form their thoughts and share without interruption. Let them know their feelings are valid and that you want to help them find the support that works for them.

What research says about FOMO

Girls’ wellbeing and FOMO

The 2023 Index found that 9-10-year-old girls were the group most impacted by the fear of missing out. In fact, the number of girls who said they get upset when they miss out more than doubled compared to the previous year. In this instance, this FOMO was linked to what is happening to their friends on social media.

This fear of missing out is often linked to spending more time online.

See the full Index report for 2023.

Support young girls’ body image and self-esteem

Social media impacts young girls’ wellbeing in various negative ways, including negative views on their own body image. This may result in low self-esteem and effects on their online identity.

Digital images include a smartphone featuring a streamer, speech bubbles and a question mark to represent talking about the realities of social media to support girls' wellbeing.

Talk about social media reality

Many social media platforms are designed for those aged 13 and over. 9-10-year-old girls who use these platforms may not have the experience or media literacy skills needed to think critically about what they see. So, it’s important to discuss content creators’ and influencers’ roles on social media.

It’s important to highlight that influencers often create and edit content as their sole job. That means they have a lot more time to look a certain way or edit their photos and videos a certain way than someone who goes to school or works a different job. It’s unrealistic to look how they look or do what they do when you don’t have the same amount of time they do.

Additionally, they earn money by promoting products, getting companies to sponsor them or through ads around their content. Some may also offer courses to earn more income.

Behind every social media post you see, there is a lot that goes on behind scenes that makes it an unrealistic comparison for children of any age.

Talk with your child regularly about their time on social media to help them think critically about what they see.

Sharing icon, heart icon and thumbs up icon to represent the positive resources available to help support girls' wellbeing and body image.

The reality is some children won’t feel comfortable talking to their parents or carers about how they feel. This is normal and is not always related to your relationship. Sometimes, they might feel embarrassed or scared to speak to you. So, it’s important to give them additional ways to find support.

There are many helplines with counsellors available to talk via phone, text/chat or email. This could be a good alternative for young girls to talk through their feelings. Popular helplines include Childline and The Mix. You may also wish to seek the expertise of a therapist to support them.

Communities designed for children to talk about their feelings could be a good option. It allows them to socialise with others who might experience similar things. Childline and The Mix both have these kinds of communities, and so does Ditch the Label.

Mum with orange check icon.

Things to remember

If a child struggles with their body image or self-esteem, it is unlikely that one conversation or intervention will be enough. So, keep the conversation going and reach out for further support from their school or professional services when it’s needed.

Remember that if you are struggling to support their wellbeing, there are also organisations like Family Lives to support parents and families too.

Help children learn more about social media’s impacts with this interactive learning tool. Click on Self-Image and Identity to get started.


What research says about body image

Body image and self-esteem in young girls

55% of girls aged 9-10 say they use social media, with many saying they use platforms with 13+ age minimums. These age restrictions protect users from content and interaction they might not yet be developmentally appropriate. As such, negative impacts on wellbeing for girls in this group could be linked to younger and younger social media use.

The 2023 Index found significant impacts on girls’ wellbeing related to body image and self-esteem. 25% of girls in this age group say being on social media makes them feel unhappy about their appearance. Furthermore, 32% say being on social media makes them feel jealous of other people while 19% say it makes them feel sad.

See the full Index report for 2023.

Resources to support young girls’ wellbeing

Continue to support young girls’ wellbeing with our range of resources on screen time, social media and body image.

What is the Wellbeing Index?

The Children’s Wellbeing in a Digital World Index is an annual report tracking children’s wellbeing online. The year two report saw a decrease in the positive effects of being online for children aged 9-15.

Girls aged 9-10, in particular, experienced greater negative impacts compared to other groups.

Underage social media use

55% of 9-10-year-old girls said they were using social media platforms. Furthermore, a significant number of girls in this group were using platforms with 13+ age restrictions.

WhatsApp - 48%

WhatsApp safety

WhatsApp is a messaging app with an age minimum in the UK of 16. However, 48% of girls 9-10 say they use the app. The age minimum is due to data protection laws (GDPR) that help protect our personal information. Not all children understand what personal information looks like and might not understand the settings they need to stay safe.

Learn more about WhatsApp safety.

Snapchat - 26%

Snapchat safety

Snapchat is a messaging social media app with a 13+ age minimum. However, 26% of girls aged 9-10 claim to use it. While features like Family Centre may support safe use for teens, those under 13 may be exposed to content inappropriate for their age. Additionally, the anonymity of potential contacts as well as the disappearing messages create additional room for harm.

Learn more about Snapchat safety.

TikTok - 41%

TikTok safety

TikTok is a social media platform with an age minimum of 13. However, 41% of girls 9-10 say they use the app. While TikTok has multiple safety features, there is still a risk of coming into contact with content or other users inappropriate for children under this age. Additionally, the endless scrolling could contribute to more time spent passively consuming content.

Learn more about TikTok safety.

Instagram - 15%

Instagram safety

Instagram is a social media platform with a 13+ age minimum. However, 15% of girls 9-10 say they use the platform. Although Instagram has safety features like Instagram Supervision and account privacy, it contains content and features that are not always suitable for those below 13-years-old.

Learn more about Instagram safety.

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