Do Boys and Girls Use Digital Tools Differently?
Today’s parents and educators are making a clear effort to close the gender gap and resist stereotypes. For instance, the long-held belief that boys are better in math and science is being challenged openly in classrooms, families, and even in clothing stores.
We want males and females to both have an equal shot at a fair education and a successful future. As the future points towards more STEM-based careers, it is even more important to fight back against the belief that computer-based careers are for males. Therefore, it is reasonable to consider how today’s kids are using technology.
This generation is well-versed in technology – you seldom see a teenager without a cell phone. But, studies suggest that even though both genders are using digital tools regularly, they are using them in different ways.
Girls Use Digital Tools to Communicate
Today’s girls are just as familiar with technology and their male peers; however, they are using digital tools much differently. According to studies, females tend to use digital tools for communication. For instance, girls tend to use social media to communicate more often than males. And, girls are using social networking to communicate about school.
The New Digital Playbook explains, “While mythology may state that texting is pervasive for all students, the data demonstrates that while almost three‐quarters of high school girls across all levels of tech‐savviness say they regularly use text messaging to communicate with classmates about schoolwork, significantly fewer males are doing the same.”
Boys Use Digital Tools to Play
On the opposite side, boys tend to use digital tools to play games. Online video gaming is more prevalent amongst boys than their female counterparts. However, with the rise of mobile apps and games, there are more females playing digital games than ever before. Even so, boys far outnumber girls when it comes to massive multi-player online game playing (MMOGs). These games require social interaction and teamwork. While the medium is different, boys are using these digital tools for writing and other school skills. For instance, The New Digital Playbook reports, “boys are twice as likely as girls to be writing text within an online conversation on a gaming website.”
Closing the Gender Gap with STEM
As STEM skills are anticipated to be necessary for future careers, educators are making a clear effort to close the gender gap using digital tools. Teachers are finding ways to engage students with both digital tools that allow for play and conversation. Additionally, we are also seeing organizations like Girls Who Code take an active role in closing the digital gender gap.