The Struggle of Boys

by Vicki on August 19, 2011

A few days ago, I stumbled across a TedTalk delivered by Philip Zimbardo.

You may be asking who the heck is Philip Zimbardo and why should I care about what he has to say?

Dr. Philip Zimbardo was the leader of the notorious 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment. He is a past president of the American Psychological Association and a professor emeritus at Stanford.

To put it simply he is a living legend within the field of social psychology.

Dr. Zimbardo’s newly posted talk on TED focuses on North American boys and why they are struggling – academically and in life in general.

Some of his assertions:

  • Girls outperform boys at every level academically – from elementary to graduate level
  • A new fear of intimacy is being reported among males (i.e., physical, emotional connections)
  • Studies are finding a lack of understanding among males of the rules that govern face to face communication
  • A preference for male bonding versus female mating is being observed (i.e., hanging out with other males vs. pursuing female partners)

According to Dr. Zimbardo, possible causes include:

  • Excessive Internet use, video gaming and porning – all of which are becoming more addictive with increased variety, more competition and better video quality
  • By the age of 21, boys spend 10,000 hours gaming, mainly in isolation
  • The average boy watches 50 porn clips a week

Dr. Zimbardo argues this leads to a digital rewiring of boys’ brains to hunger for change, novelty, excitement and constant arousal – making them out of sync with how relationships are formed and are maintained.

Just think about the implications Zimbardo’s assertions may have on how generations of males and females will interact (or not!), communicate, form and maintain relationships, parent, problem solve, etc.

The talk is short (under 5 minutes) and although delivered in a provocative and amusing tone, brings to light a critical issue to consider.

via TED

And should you be so inclined, Zimbardo provides a link to a very short 10-question survey where he is currently collecting data on this phenomenon.

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