Differences in cell phone habits can be seen in children as young as 11, with boys more likely to use their mobiles for checking email and playing video games than girls, a new study finds.
But that doesn't mean you should buy phones with fewer features for girls, said study author Sheila Cotten, a sociologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The team thinks the differences in tech savvy between young boys and girls are the result of upbringing.
"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," Cotten said.
And while it may seem harmless that young girls ignore the more advanced features of their cell phones, Cotten worries that the attitude that it's okay to do so can put girls at a disadvantage later on in life.
"It can impact the types of jobs and courses that girls take," Cotten said. "If they are not as interested in exploring or taking apart technology, they may be less likely to take computer science, science and math courses."
For the study, Cotten and her team surveyed nearly 1,000 middle-school students between the ages of 11 and 13. The children were asked to rate the different ways they used their cell phones on a five-point scale, with zero meaning "Never" to 5 meaning "Several times a day."
Boys scored higher than girls for using their cell phones to play games, share pictures and videos, listen to music, and send emails.
While the study seemed to confirm one stereotype that boys are more gadget-obsessed than girls, it overturned another: Young girls, in fact, are not chattier than boys. Both sexes talk and text on their phone for about 2 hours per day.
The findings are detailed in the current issue of the journal New Media & Society.
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