Do African American Male and Female Adolescents Differ in Technological Engagement? The Effects of Parental Encouragement and Adolescent Technological Confidence

Chun Tao, Kimberly A. Scott, Kathryn S. McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

African Americans, especially African American women, remain one of the most underrepresented groups in technology-based degrees and careers. However, little is known about whether gender differences permeate African American adolescents’ engagement in technology in earlier development, such as in middle and high school (ages 12–18). Drawing on an ecological and intersectional framework, we examined if African American male and female adolescents differed in technological engagement and what contextual factors affected their engagement. We hypothesized that parental encouragement would be associated with greater technological confidence in adolescents, which would be linked to more experiences with and interests in technology. Further, we investigated if these associations would vary by adolescents’ and parents’ gender. Survey data from 1041 African American parent-adolescent dyads highlighted that adolescents had less experience and interest with technical activities than with creative activities, especially among female adolescents. More parents encouraged adolescent sons but limited daughters to use technology, yet female adolescents reported greater technological confidence. Moderated mediation analyses revealed that adolescents’ technological confidence mediated the positive association between parental encouragement and adolescents’ technological engagement across all parent-adolescent dyads, but with some nuances. Our findings suggest that prospective gender studies and educational programs should consider the influences of parenting and gender on promoting African American adolescents’ technological involvement and confidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-551
Number of pages16
JournalSex Roles
Volume83
Issue number9-10
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Keywords

  • Adolescent behavior
  • African American
  • Digital technology
  • Gender
  • Intersectionality
  • Parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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