September 7, 2023

Empowering Student Voice: Viral Platform “Girlhood” and Its Impact on students

Barbie, Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé are expected to add about $8.5 billion to the economy as a result of the film and tours’ success– making “Girlhood” one of the top trending topics on social media.  Women across the globe are taking to TikTok to discuss femininity and the woman’s perspective, and their stories are capturing the attention of young girls and social media users everywhere. 

At the forefront of this cultural shift is “Girlhood,” a new blog that has taken TikTok by storm. Founded by students, Mia Sugimoto and Sophia Rundle, “Girlhood” is a platform that encourages teenagers to share their stories and find the support they need. In shades of bubblegum pink and purple, this Tumblr-esque site is not just about empowerment; it’s about empowerment through storytelling.

What is the “Girlhood” blog?

“Girlhood” serves as a safe space for teenage girls to share their highs and lows, their triumphs and tribulations. The platform aims to encourage girls to share their stories and to talk to other girls. Stories can be funny, scary, relatable, or entertaining! We want every girl to know that they belong and that there are girls all over the world willing to help. Every girl has a story, and Girlhood gives them a chance to share it.”

While Sugimoto and Rundle publish articles and pieces of advice, the heart of their platform lies in the stories submitted by their readers. These stories cover a wide range of topics, from toxic friendships to the complexities of self-esteem. Some read like anonymous diary entries, while others feel like intimate conversations between close friends.

The success of “Girlhood” on TikTok is undeniable, with nearly 85,000 followers and a growing community. On their Instagram page, the founders have received thousands of volunteer applications and advice submissions. 

An important reality 

Beneath the surface of this viral sensation lies an important reality. Research indicates that girls today are facing a growing mental health crisis. Federal data from February 2023 reveals alarming statistics: almost one in three high school girls reported considering suicide, and nearly six in ten girls reported feeling so sad and hopeless that they gave up on regular activities. 

What this data reveals is that a growing number of students are experiencing mental health challenges, and it’s impacting their day-to-day lives. Whether it’s schoolwork, participating in clubs or sports, or even just making their beds, simple tasks can feel too overwhelming for students struggling with their mental health and this creates quick burnout for students.

While the data associated with the mental health crisis seems concerning, there are several steps that teachers and administrators can take to prevent student burnout, while improving their overall well-being. 

TSI’s Take

Educators play a pivotal role in empowering students to handle the pressures they face throughout their young adulthood in school and online. In an era dominated by social media, understanding platforms like “Girlhood” and sharing it with students who are looking for a resource to connect with others and share their experiences could be a game-changer for students who feel alone or stressed as they navigate their lives, online and offline.

Additionally, here are proactive steps educators can take to guide their students through the complexities of young adulthood in the age of social media: 

  1. Create a Safe Space: Establish a classroom environment where students feel safe discussing their feelings and experiences. Encourage empathy and active listening.
  2. Stay Informed: Keep up with current trends in social media and student culture. Understanding the platforms and issues that matter to your students will help you better support and empower them to navigate these topics in high-character ways.
  3. Promote Positive Role Models: Encourage students to identify positive influencers and role models on social media. Discuss the qualities that make someone a positive influence.
  4. Offer Support: Let students know that you are there to support them. Provide information about counseling services and resources available both in school and the community.
  5. Encourage Self-Expression: Foster creativity and self-expression through writing, art, or other forms of communication. Encourage students to share their stories and perspectives.

“Girlhood” and the broader conversation about students and social media are significant for educators to understand so that they can meet students where they are. “Girlhood” offers a unique inside look at the challenges students face and highlights the importance of providing a supportive environment. When students are empowered to handle the pressure on and offline, they can become positive influences online and use their mics for good– just like Mia Sugimoto and Sophia Rundle did. 

For more ways to empower your students to use their mic for good online, check out ways teachers across the country are encouraging students to use their voice online to speak out on causes they care about. 

Always stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest trends online by subscribing to our newsletter where we talk about trending tech and social media news weekly! In the meantime, check out our Instagram and TikTok @thesocialinst for tips, trends, and highlights when it comes to social media.

The Social Institute (TSI) is the leader in empowering students by understanding students. Through #WinAtSocial, our gamified, peer-to-peer learning platform, we equip students, educators, and families to navigate their social world – in the classroom and beyond, online and offline – in healthy, high-character ways. Our unique, student-respected approach empowers and equips, rather than scares and restricts. We incorporate timely topics about social media, tech use, and current events that are impacting student well-being and learning. #WinAtSocial Lessons teach life skills for the modern day, capture student voice, and provide school leaders with actionable insights. Through these insights, students play an essential role in school efforts to support their own health, happiness, and future success as we enable high-impact teaching, meaningful family conversations, and a healthy school culture.