Monday, December 21, 2009

Boys and Cell Phones

Does your son have a cell phone? What are his favorite features?

According to a new study, boys are more likely than girls to use their cell phones for purposes other than communication. Boys are more likely to play music, share pictures, check email and play video games on their cellular phones.

The researchers worry, though, that those differences in usage are based less on personal interest -- and more on social conditioning. "Boys are often taught to explore and be more creative with technology and not to be afraid to take things apart. So it leads to more advanced cell phone uses among boys," said study author Sheila Cotten, a sociologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

I'm not sure she can get all that from one study, but I think she might be right. I'm very hesitant with new technology, in part because I don't understand it. I don't push any more buttons than absolutely necessary for fear I'll "mess something up." The boys' dad, on the other hand, is far more proficient on the computer than I, largely because he has no problem whatsoever exploring technology. Whatever happens, he's confident he can find a way to get back to start.

Is that why he's an engineer and I'm not? The study researchers might think so: ""If [girls] are not as interested in exploring or taking apart technology, they may be less likely to take computer science, science and math courses."

Personally, I think that's a lot of inference, based on a cell phone study. Still, I'd like to hear your experiences. Are your boys more adventurous on the cell phone and computer than your girls? What do you think of the researchers' conclusions?


  1. PL doesn't have a phone, but does have an iTouch and he's very adept at figuring techie things out in general - as am I (not in a techie field at all). Dad Windu, however, is very shy around new tech and he's our resident engineer.

    I think the author was making a pretty big inference, and I'm inclined to believe it might have more to do with seeing someone close to them - anyone really (parent, sibling, friend, teacher, neighbor, etc) - who is similarly interested in and fearless with technology.

  2. Or it could just be that girls spend so much time talking on their phones that they don't have the time to explore, while the boys don't engage in that kind of social interaction and don't see their phone as a link to their friends but as a means of entertainment.

    Either conclusion is a huge generalization and the truth is in the murky gray area in the middle. So many of the new gadgets are very girl-friendly and easily accessible, and even marketed more to girls than boys. But,it has been my very limited observation that boys are more interested in the specs of the product (size, speed, etc.) while girls care more about the function (calling, texting, sending pictures).

  3. yeah, i have 2 brother and both of them likely to change their cell phone with a complete fitur, like music, video and absoloutly game. they almost using their cell phone to gaming better than send a sms or calling me. urghhh

  4. I think it's one of those generalizations that's not helpful if it's used to pigeonhole someone (he's a boy, he must like video games), but can be helpful to understand a person who's different from you.

    I have a girl who likes to figure out how things are put together, how things work, and unlike her older siblings, was the one who always clicked a button that said, click here! (I realized when she'd called me over for help: Mommy, they want my email address but I don't have one.)

  5. My 10-year-old sons are definitely more likely to explore and figure things out. My 8-year-old daughter is much more hesitant to try and work out technology. It's not that she's not capable, she is just less likely to try anything without asking to be shown.

    I don't believe it is gender conditioning at all. I think it just individual personality. My family just happens to fit the stereotype that way.

  6. Not only boys girls are also a addict of cell phones this are really a very nice and fantastic things for us I am very excited about this one.

  7. Are there not already enough studies showing that the female brain is wired for connectivity and relationships? Preteen and teen girls and many grown women like to connect w others face to face, on the phone or by internet. Women have always used the wired telephone more than boys or men. Why are we surprised that females talk on their cell phone more?

    Saw a keychain photo gizmo in the store. It scrolls photos. See my cell phone can have photos. The MP3 player we got for our son has photo storage. My navigation system in the dashboard of the minivan can scroll photos. For $10 on black friday I could have gotten a digital photo frame. My hard drive has thousands of photos on it.

    How many places do I want my photos?

    Answer: on the hard drive, or few printed off and displayed.

    Enough is enough. I have other things to do with my time than import photos all over the techno gizmos. If boys or men have time to do that and have fun with it then go for it.


  8. We didn't have cell phones for a long time, but Kirby's friends wanted him to have one so when he was 16 or so (he's 23 now) a friend who worked for t-Mobile gave Kirby his extra free account and a phone, to make it easier to get hold of him. That was helpful for the rest of us, too.

    Some years passed. Marty and Holly got phones when they were 17 and 14, matching phones. They helped each other. They have other phones now.

    Marty does the most texting of anyone in our family. He also listens to music, and puts headphones on his phone to practice drums. It's fun for me to try to figure out what song it is, hearing only the drums.

    Holly would use hers for photos more, but she has a separate camera she's more likely to use. They both have laptop computers, too, so photos are more likely stored and shared there and online.

    Kirby, a man now and not a boy, lives elsewhere and has an iPhone where he gets notifications of things, and plays games, and keeps records.

    Anyone with phones and boys should pay for unlimited texting, I think. I also recommend that any parent with any child should consider the phone a safety tool and an important piece of connection and not use it as a "be good or I'll take it away" thing. That's cruel and dangerous and not relationship-building.

  9. Well I can't really compare boys vs girls since I have all boys. My oldest is only 9, so he doesn't have a cell phone yet. He has asked for one though! I'm just not ready for all of that. My oldest 3 love to play on the computer though and my oldest has always had a way with electronics. :)

  10. Just wanted to let you know that you won best Adult Homeschool Blog.

    I really think it depends on the boy. My eldest takes after his Father and is interested in fixing the computer and how it works. He has a BS degree in Computer Science now. My youngest just wants to play games on the computer and could care less how it works.

    I learnt enough html to decorate my blog. My eldest and Hubby don't care to learn how to decorate a blog even though they both have computer related degrees.

  11. The boys both got their own iTouch for Christmas, but have never asked for a phone (truth be told, they don't even show an interest in our home phone, not even when it's for them)! Can't speak for girls.