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26 March 2018Bilbao Campus

Deusto Researcher Estíbaliz Linares analyses the sexist digital realities of teenagers

The researcher Estíbaliz Linares has defended a PhD thesis at the University of Deusto under the title “The digital sexist iceberg”. Linares analizes the digital sexit realities of teenagers in the Basque Country. Supervised by María Silvestre and Raquel Royo, the research identifies the gender digital gaps generated by media and videogames, cyber control and cyber sexual and/or sexist harassment. The objective of this analysis carried out with boys and girls between 15 and 17 years old is the prevention and intervention during formal education.

The research validates the existence of a second gender digital gap emerging from a cultural imaginary which is transmitted through the media and has alienated women from the ICT sectors. There are, however, few girls who are close to technology and are thinking about a future in this sector. In those cases, teenage girls usually have a close reference to female technologist, a socialization based in flexible schemes and an education respecting equality principles.

The video games world is another key space perpetuating the so called third gender digital gap. As the researcher Linares demonstrates, the most used games are designed in sexist parameters (a big number of them with a high burden of misogynist violence).

Girls are more active in Instagram

Other channels influencing the third digital gender gap are Youtube and the social networks. Youtube is one of the most used channels by both boys and girls. In the Youtube format you can clearly see that ambivalence, in which subversive spaces appear, but also those spaces which are impregnated by the symbolic violence and sexism.

In relation to the social networks, Estíbaliz Linares shows that the most used social networks by both, girls and boys, are Whatsapp, Instagram and Snapchat. Even if the girls tend to be more active in pictures networks like Instagram, their speeches reveal an anxiety caused by that overexposure, generating suffering and self-hate to their bodies.

The researcher has also analysed cybercontrol attitudes and has concluded that girls claim to be more controlling in matters such as vigilance of the last connection hour in the social networks.

Digital orphanage

The analysis also points out other forms of sexist cyber violence, as the ones suffered by the youtubers or the ones perpetuated by other channels such as Ask. However, even if these forms of violence are common, this type of violence has not been categorised yet. Therefore it becomes harder to detect and intervene, legitimating thus a higher level of stigmatisation.

The Phd concludes stating that the cybernetic reality is much more complex as there are so many sexist transforming spaces. This means that technologies cannot guarantee a sexism-free space by themselves.