Connecting Spaces: Gender, Video Games and Computing in the Early Teens

Jennifer Ashlock, Miodrag Stojnic, Zeynep Tufekci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Informed by evidence that computing attitudes may be uniquely constructed in informal contexts and that the early teens are a key period for academic decision-making, we investigate lines of practice that connect computing skills, attitudes, and videogames. We compare the relationship between computer skill, computer efficacy, and activities associated with gaming using a data set of 3,868 children in middle school. The time that children spend gaming has very modest association with skill and efficacy. Accounting for the frequency with which children modify games, engage in social gaming activities, and the salience of gamer identity explains the gender gap in computer skill and significantly narrows the gender gap in computer efficacy. We find support for the argument that computer skill and efficacy are dependent on children connecting often isolated social contexts, a socially embedded characteristic of the digital divide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-225
Number of pages25
JournalSociological Perspectives
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • computer science
  • digital technology
  • gender
  • STEM education
  • video games


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