Rebecca Sparrow #TeamGirls Interview
Three in four teenage girls in Australia attribute their self-confidence to peers and family, according to research released today by Suncorp and Netball Australia.
The Suncorp Australian Youth and Confidence Research Report reveals 75 per cent of teenage girls (13-18 years) believe the key to achieving self confidence is having supportive friends and family, followed by good grades at school (65 per cent), achieving life goals (63 per cent), positive body image (38 per cent) and receiving social media likes (36 per cent).
The research also reveals that three in four parents believe social media is negatively impacting their teens' self-esteem, but believe participation in sport helps build confidence, resilience and helps them make better decisions.
Furthermore, more than three quarters of teenage girls are inspired by role models who help others (78 per cent), are confident (73 per cent) and achieve their goals (73 per cent) in comparison to being smart (50 per cent) or attractive (16 per cent).
In support of this positive trend, Suncorp, along with Netball Australia and ReachOut Australia, have today launched #TeamGirls - a national initiative designed to help young Australians be confident and positive role models for each other.
The initiative focuses on three core pillars which are key to improving self-confidence - goal setting, sports participation and positive social behaviours.
Suncorp Chief Customer Experience Officer Mark Reinke said #TeamGirls aims to help parents address the key elements linked to instilling and improving confidence in teenagers.
'Confidence is key to positive wellbeing, can help us achieve our life goals and get us to where we want to be," Mr Reinke said.
'Through our research we identified that goal setting, sports participation and positive social behaviours are key to improving self confidence, and that's why they are our #TeamGirls pillars. 'We wanted to connect parents to tools and resources to help them have conversations with their teenagers about confidence and positive behaviours."
The initiative is supported by some of Australia's most respected speakers, athletes and youth mental health experts including ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas, author and mother Rebecca Sparrow, and former Australian netballers Laura Geitz and Clare McMeniman.
Netball Australia, an existing community of women and girls who believe in the #TeamGirls ethos, is the foundation partner of the program.
'Netball Australia is delighted to be involved in an initiative that encourages girls to play on the same team. There is a commendable amount of strength in this generation of girls – both on and off the court – and by providing the right support and resources, I am confident they will continue to develop into confident and successful women," Netball Australia CEO Marne Fechner said.
#TeamGirls extends the existing partnership between Suncorp and Netball Australia, with Suncorp being the principal sponsor of the national netball league (Suncorp Super Netball).
ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas said, -Sadly we know that one in four young people experience a mental health difficulty, so it's critical we do everything we can to improve young people's mental health.
#TeamGirls is a great initiative that allows us to connect a large audience of parents of young women to our self-help and information content from ReachOut Parents. This will equip parents with the skills to help build their teenagers' resilience and self-esteem and contend with the challenges of adolescence and early adulthood.'
#TeamGirls will launch officially at the Suncorp Super Netball match in Brisbane on 13 May. For more information on #TeamGirls visit here: www.suncorp.com.au/teamgirls
Interview with Rebecca Sparrow – Author, Columnist and Mother
Question: What is #TeamGirls?
Rebecca Sparrow: #TeamGirls is a national initiative launched by Suncorp in partnership with Netball Australia and ReachOut that is designed to help young Australians be the best version of themselves and be the best role models for each other.
Question: What do you hope to achieve from #TeamGirls?
Rebecca Sparrow: My goal is to help tween and teenage girls – and their parents! - traverse that tricky path from childhood to adulthood. I think we have a generation of parents who are understandably feeling overwhelmed by the ever-changing social media and online landscape. I want to help them navigate that path as they try to help their girls deal with body image issues, sexting, bullying, self-esteem and friendship dramas. For the girls I want to help them gain that confidence - in their abilities, their ideas and their appearance. I want to give these girls everything I wish I'd had when I was in school – both resources and reassurance.
Question: What motivated you to join the #TeamGirls initiative?
Rebecca Sparrow: The moment I was asked to join the #TeamGirls movement I said YES! The objectives of #TeamGirls mirrors the work I've been doing for close to 15 years with teenage girls. I write books and go into high schools to talk to girls about the value in cultivating authentic friendships, the importance of teaching yourself to be resilient and the value in giving back to the community. #TeamGirls encapsulates everything I stand for: teaching girls about leadership, empathy, teamwork, authenticity and personal values.
Question: How does participating in sport encourage young girls to be positive role models for each other?
Rebecca Sparrow: Research conducted by Suncorp revealed girls identify exercise, fun and friendships as the core benefits of playing sport, and 84% also feel that playing sport helps them forget their worries. Sport is also a great way to work together as a team to achieve goals and improve confidence. It doesn't matter how skilled you are as a player, if you can't play as a team – you'll never achieve major success.
Question: How can parents teach their children to support each other?
Rebecca Sparrow: I've been writing articles on friendship for the #TeamGirls hub. There is no one solution or answer. It's about having on-going conversations about what a great friendship looks and feels like; about modelling empathy and compassion in your home and discussing the concept of teamwork and the value in kindness.
You can find more information at www.suncorp.com.au/teamgirls
Question: What is the importance of girls setting goals, together? Can you give us an example of some goals, young girls could set for themselves?
Rebecca Sparrow: I think a really common goal for girls is related to them backing themselves. So it could be entering an art competition or putting themselves forward for a leadership role at school. It could also be a goal related to them pursuing or investigating a passion – cooking, journalism, music, maths. So it's about taking a variety of steps – school holiday workshops, work-experience - to learn more about that field. And then let's not forget the goal of saving money for that first overseas trip or an instrument or car!
Question: What are the social media difficulties facing young Australians?
Rebecca Sparrow: Just because a child is tech-savvy does not mean they have the emotional maturity to navigate the complexities of life online. Those complexities include really understanding the importance of privacy settings, understanding how to protect your headspace and not fall into the -compare and despair' trap, realising that the rules and values you have with your friends off-line need to be the same ONLINE plus bullying, sexting and setting boundaries in place so that your kids aren't still texting at midnight. Kids need their sleep!
Question: Can you share your advice, for parents who struggle to tackle social media issues, with their teenagers?
Rebecca Sparrow: First thing is boundaries. Devices need to be handed in at night and charged in a central location in the house. Turn the Wi-Fi off at 9pm every night if you have to! Encourage your kids to curate their social media feed so that when they log on they feel uplifted and inspired by people like Turia Pitt or Michelle Obama or Emma Watson rather than feeling less-than thanks to an endless stream of fitspo selfies. And create your family social media rules TOGETHER. You may insist that you're one of your child's friends or followers BUT in turn they may insist you stop posting embarrassing baby photos of them on your own account! You'll be able to read more advice at www.suncorp.com.au/teamgirls
Question: What is -healthy social media use'?
Rebecca Sparrow: If you child can spend one day a week away from their phone or social media account, if they can sit at dinner making conversation rather than reaching for their phone and if they're getting enough sleep then my guess is you're probably doing okay.
Interview by Brooke Hunter