Gender Biases in Choosing Tech for Kids

Image courtesy of CanStockPhoto.

Image courtesy of CanStockPhoto.

In this day and age, children start using digital devices early on and grow up with technology. But how do we decide which devices our children will use?

A recent study from PlayScience asked that very question, and some of the answers it found were unsettling. In addition to devices’ perceived educational value – which, needless to say, was shown to be a strong factor – the study also found correlations between children’s gender and parents’ purchasing choices. Specifically, parents are more likely to factor child-friendliness over the child’s preference when buying tech for girls, while favoring the child’s preference over child-friendliness when buying tech for boys.

As the study authors explain, this is problematic because, from very early childhood, it fosters the same attitudes which discourage women from entering STEM fields later in life. When we buy a children’s tablet for our young daughter while buying a regular tablet or a smart phone for our young son, we implicitly say that she needs to be protected, whereas he can and should explore.

It’s important to recognize these biases and work to correct them, lest we discourage our daughters from reaching their full potential.

To learn more about the PlayScience study, check out this thought-provoking article on the Huffington Post by study co-author Dr. Alison Bryant, or read the full text of the researchers’ report here.

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