Online Safety Tips for Women’s History Month

March 8, 2024

March is Women’s History Month. Women and girls of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations deserve to be safe both on and offline. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Below are a few tips for women and girls to stay safe online, followed by some important resources for those who need them.

Tips for Staying Safe:

Don’t “overshare”:

Oversharing online has become relatively normalized by our use of social media. In fact, Influencers like Emma Chamberlain have made super successful careers out of talking about themselves and their days online.

When you share on the internet, make sure you don’t give out information like your address or phone number. And make sure what you’re sharing is something that you’re comfortable with the whole world knowing about you. You never know if you could be the next viral moment!

Try your best not to stalk:

We’ve all been there. You start scrolling through a social media app and the next thing you know you’re on your ex-partner’s sister’s dog’s groomer’s page. Sometimes, our natural curiosity just takes us a bit too far, and this probably isn’t the healthiest way to spend our time.

If you find yourself spending way too much time looking at other people’s online lives and comparing them to your own, remind yourself that the internet is just a snapshot of the good parts of people’s lives, and not a total view of who they are. Remember that you can take a break from social media, or mute certain accounts that are making you feel insecure.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, just listen to Olivia Rodrigo’s “Jealousy, Jealousy” to know that we all engage in this behavior, even pop princesses.

Be conscious about the media you are consuming, and when you are consuming it:

Going off of the point above, check in with yourself about your media consumption. If you are consuming a lot of diet trends on social media and they are making you feel bad about your body, it’s likely time to unfollow and disengage with those types of accounts.

The same goes for news media - it can sometimes feel feel like you constantly have to check in on the news to read the latest stories and stay up to date. Understand that you are human, and taking in constant negative news cycles is draining. It’s OK to take a few days off from reading, listening to or watching the news if you need to.

When we consume media is also important. Try not to read heavy and disturbing things right before bed or right when you get up in the morning. In fact, try not to keep your phone by your bed at all. Put it in another part of your room, or, even better, in a different room altogether.

Before you meet up IRL, take precautions:

These days, making friends online is not uncommon. In fact, one of the great parts of the internet is its ability to bring people together through common interests. Often, these online friendships transition to the real world with IRL (in real life) meetups.

If you’ve agreed to meet up with someone IRL, take the following precautions to make sure you are safe. 

  • Meet up in public, and tell someone (your parent/caregiver, a trusted friend, etc.) where you will be. Consider sharing your location with someone you trust. 
  • Set up a FaceTime with your online friend before your real life meeting so you can verify that they are who they say they are online. 
  • Do a quick Google search of your online friend to make sure they are a safe person to be around. 
  • If you are under the age of 18, consider bringing your parent/caregiver along to your first meeting to make sure that you are with someone age appropriate and safe. 

If you are feeling unsafe online or in real life, get the help you need:

It’s important to remember that you are not alone. If an online interaction makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, please report it online and tell a trusted friend or family member. If you are a victim of exploitation or harassment, it is not your fault and there is help available. Below is a list organizations that can help you out in times of crisis.

Resources to Help you Stay Safe:

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline - If you are feeling as though you might self harm, call 988 at any time of the day or night to talk to a trained professional. 

NCMEC - If you or your child are being exploited on the internet, use NCMEC’s CyberTipLine to report any wrongdoing. - If you believe your identity has been stolen, file a report with the government via this website. 

National Domestic Violence Hotline - If you are being physically or emotionally abused on or offline (or both) contact the NDVH for immediate help from trained professionals. For additional resources about domestic violence, check out NNEDV

Crisis Text Line - If you are experiencing any sort of mental health issue, or just need someone to talk to, call or text trusted professionals 24/7 via Crisis Text Line.

The Trevor Project - If you are an LGBTQ+ individual, a parent of a child who identifies as LGBTQ+, or an ally looking for ways to help the community, you can check out the Trevor Project’s resources, or use their hotline for immediate help from trained professionals. 

Your Apps/Games/Devices Parental Controls and Safety Controls - Make sure you or your child is staying safe by learning about the parental and safety controls that are available to you on each device and platform. These controls can work to proactively prevent you or your child from ending up in an unsafe situation. 

To all the girls and women (and allies), happy Women’s History Month! May these tips serve as reminders to keep us safe - while we all collectively fight for a better future for all women and girls.

Written by

Alanna Powers

Alanna is the Research & Program Specialist for the Family Online Safety Institute. She leads FOSI's Good Digital Parenting programming and research projects, and supports FOSI's communications efforts. Her prior experiences focused on both media and education. Alanna has taught English and communications courses at both the high school and college level, and concentrated on the subject of media literacy education during her master’s program.

Alanna has a master’s degree in media studies from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She also holds undergraduate degrees in both Public Relations and English from Penn State University, and is a Fulbright alumna.