Boys: digitally rewired for change

30 May

“Boys’ brains are being digitally rewired for change, novelty, excitement and constant arousal. That means they’re totally out of sync in traditional classes, which are analog, static, interactively passive.”

—Philip Zimbardo

Yes, that Zimbardo. The one who engineered the Stanford Prison Experiment ( He’s back. This time, his subject is boys.

Why does it matter that boys brains are being “digitally rewired”? According to Zimbardo’s research with colleague Nikita Duncan, the mismatch between digital boys and analog schools is already having disastrous consequences: “[b]oys are 30 percent more likely than girls to drop out of school. In Canada, five boys drop out for every three girls. Girls outperform boys now at every level, from elementary school to graduate school.”

You can catch some of Zimbardo’s argument in his TED talk “The Demise of Guys?” ( or the full thesis in his collaboration with Duncan, The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It (

I haven’t cracked my Kindle open on this one yet, but I’m interested to read what Zimbardo and Duncan may have to say about the different risks and protections for subgroups of boys, based on race, class and other social identifiers.

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