Gender, Technology Use and Ownership, and Media-Based Multitasking among Middle School Students


We propose and test a new explanation for why more girls than boys multitask with media. We argue that gender differences in technology use and ownership function as the proximal cause for these gender differences in media multitasking. Prior literature suggests different patterns of technology ownership, such as more girls owning MP3 players and cell phones and more boys owning gaming systems. Further, on average, girls spend more time listening to music and communicating over media, while boys spend more time playing games. Those with the highest levels of ownership and use of a specific type of media may be the most likely to multitask with that media. We test our argument with a sample of middle school students, a group underrepresented in multitasking studies. The data support our arguments with ownership and use partially explaining the greater percentage of girls that multitask with music and communication media. Contrary to our predictions, the percentage of boys and girls who multitask while gaming did not significantly differ. We discuss potential explanations and conclude with implications for future research on gender differences in multitasking, youth and multitasking, and technology and media multitasking.


Psychological Science

Keywords and Phrases

Gender; Multitasking; Media; Information and communication technology; Digital inequalities; Secondary education

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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© 2014 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2014