our everyday life

Gender Differences in Teenagers

by Kristen Berry

Teens display a natural tendency toward gender differences assumed through behaviors and activities. Regardless of society's parameters for expected behavior, teens are unique in their need to assert independence, but they also exhibit gender differences based on physical and biological differences in development. According to assistant professor of psychological services at University of Missouri, Jennifer Bohanek, during adolescence, the stories young people tell about themselves reflect their development of a personal identity, gender difference and sense of self.

Use of Computers

Most teenagers make consistent use of cellphones and computers; however, they use technology for different reasons. According to a telephone Gallup Youth Survey, boys are more likely to play computer games than girls. In a one-week period, 77 percent of boys said they had played a computer game, compared to 65 percent of the girls surveyed. The numbers are reversed when teens were asked about emailing friends. In a one-week period, 76 percent of girls said they had emailed a friend, compared to 65 percent of the boys polled. Boys may be more inclined to play computer video games that are geared toward violence. A previous Gallup poll suggests that girls are less accepting of violence in video games and that boys and girls have different attitudes toward media violence.

Brain Function and Maturity

Boys and girls typically learn and process information in different ways. According to Leonard Sax, MD., PhD., at the Education website, different regions of the brain develop in varying sequences and tempos in girls and boys. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that girls reach the halfway point in brain development just before age 11 years whereas boys do not reach the same inflection point until just before age 15. A female reaches full maturity, in terms of brain development, between the ages of 21 and 22. A male man does not reach full maturity, in terms of brain development, until almost 30 years of age.

Emotional Differences

According to psychotherapist Tom Golden, LCSW, boys and girls have different bio-behavioral responses to stress, in part because of hormonal differences between the two sexes. When females are stressed, they are more likely to turn to other females for support in order to protect each other from perceived threats. This is known as the "tend and befriend" response. Males more commonly adopt the "fight or flight" response, where they either move toward or away from danger based on their ability to manage the situation on their own.

Communication and Language Differences

It often seems girls are more adept than boys at thoughtful communication. This may be the result of a female's ability to readily utilize both sides of her brain for creative thinking patterns. This doesn't mean girls are more skilled at speaking than boys, but rather indicates girls are more apt to attempt communication about what's on their mind. According to Douglas D. Burman, PhD., there is an overlap in language skills between boys and girls, but the differences are small. Burman confirms that studies have shown that language-related brain activity in girls was on both sides of the brain, whereas the activity in boys was mostly evident on the left side. Generally, these differences begin in early development and continue through the teenage and adult years.

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Kristen Noelle has been writing since 2007. Her work has appeared in AOL News, "Mothering Magazine," "Maui News," "Christian Science Monitor," "Forsyth County News" and the "Forsyth Herald." Noelle studies comparative literature at the University of Georgia.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images