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Many of us are under the notion that technology, whether in the form of knowledge, gadgets, or even games, is a guy thing. The fact of the matter is, women can be just as proficient as men, if not more. With today’s changing trend in the industry of mobile communications, girls are becoming the dominant species on the planet as far as smartphone usage is concerned. How can this increasing adoption of mobile devices help young women break through the misconception of technology as a “man thing”?
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The balance has shifted
Three years ago, mobile phones were more of a business thing. Today, they’re practically a necessity. The demand and eventual ownership of mobile phones exploded from 38% in 2010 to over 60% this year, according to a study by e-retail association IMRG. Corollary to that is the fact that males own more of these devices than females, with 63% men as opposed to 37% women. Now, the tables have been turned. The rise in phone ownership also saw an increase in women using them – 58% over 42% of men. Also, it is interesting to note that a recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 78% of teens have cell phones, with almost half of them smartphone users. Of these, 34% are girls aged 14 to 17 years, a sharp contrast to just 24% boys.
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No longer about making calls
The same study showed that teens in general prefer using their mobile gadgets to go online. Based on Lucia Moses’ Adweek.com article, one in four teens even access the Internet exclusively on their mobile device, much more than the 15% in adults. This is a significant finding that corroborates recent studies done by the mobile industry. London-based telecom O2 released a report that showed usage statistics of cell phones last year. Data from the report indicated that making calls were no longer the primary use of mobile phones. Users were spending most of their time on Internet-related activities, with phone calling only coming in fifth place behind playing games and listening to music. Smartphones are called as such for a reason – the powerful set of features designed into each handset makes it versatile in use and in function.
Phones today are very powerful devices, far from the mobile handsets that we knew about five years ago. Most mid-to-high tier models are equipped with mobile processors that rival even full-sized desktop computers. Internet access is blazingly fast with new technologies such as 4G. It’s as close as you can get to a handheld PC. And the platform boasts of apps that encompass several aspects of information and communications technology. Digital image manipulation and photography tools are available with Adobe Photoshop Express. Software programming can be done on the go with DeuterIDE. Communicate through voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) with Skype. Besides the standard web browsing capability, smartphones are able to run mobile productivity tools.
The mobile platform also opens a new door for creativity. In the United Kingdom, there are ICT enrichment programs for teens, girls and boys alike, such as Apps for Good. These mobile tech initiatives promote creative learning programs to build the skills, talents, and confidence of young people aspiring to become technology experts. The programs center on mobile app development for smartphones and tablets, and are slowly gaining positive attention in the mobile industry. Two 17-year old girls from Central Foundation Girls’ School in the UK, through Apps for Good, have actually designed a gardening app that impressed private mobile investors.
The notion of boys being more tech-savvy than girls is a misconception. The traditional culture of associating gender-specific stereotypes such as the color pink with women is imbibed as early as childhood. This in turn restricts them internally from entering a more technological way of life as they grow. Getting to know technology doesn’t necessarily mean that one needs to know things like computer programming. ICT covers other fields such as digital photography, audio-video, digital communications, among others. By starting off with breaking away from traditional beliefs, mindsets, and practices, young girls can tap into technology and familiarize themselves with it. Constant encouragement and exposure to gadgets such as cell phones, gaming consoles, and computers will open their minds to pursue and further their technical knowledge.
How do you think your little girl’s mobile phone help her become technologically inclined later on? Write to us and tell us what you think.
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