Sexting: boys more likely to have taken part than girls

Zeeko report finds that online experiences of girls and boys differ hugely

Online experiences of girls and boys diverge significantly, as reflected in Zeeko’s digital trend report for 2016.

Secondary-school girls report higher levels of both being cyberbullied (22 per cent versus 11 per cent of their male peers) and of experiencing cyberbullying happening to people around them (48 per cent versus 33 per cent). While 89 per cent of females regard it as a very serious issue, only 71 per cent of males have the same view.

The report by Zeeko, an Irish organisation promoting internet safety for parents, teachers and children, found that in all categories of sexting behaviour, boys are more likely to have taken part than girls. For instance, 24 per cent of males have sent a sexually suggestive message but only 12 per cent of girls have; for sending nude/semi-nude images of themselves, it’s 17 per cent compared to nine per cent of females. And 18 per cent of boys have sexted a non-partner, while eight per cent of females have done so.

These trends are typical of those observed in studies on gender differences and peer relations in the offline world.


‘Less power’

"Our findings provide evidence on the persistence of a patriarchal models, which still seem to permeate the lives of younger generations regardless of them being online or offline," says cyber-psychologist Dr Marina Everri. "In other words, girls tend to be the target of aggression and violence, and have less power compared to boys.

“It’s kind of sad, to be honest,” she says.

Girls are more cautious about online interaction with strangers: while 56 per cent of males have spoken to people they don’t know online, 39 per cent of females have done the same. When it comes to meeting people they got to know online, the gap is 18 per cent versus 13 per cent.

Some of this interaction with unknown people is undoubtedly through gaming, which is much popular with boys than girls as a way of socialising online.

Sheila Wayman

Sheila Wayman

Sheila Wayman, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about health, family and parenting