Study finds gender-specific traits in kids that leads to hacking behavior

Over at Michigan State University, a team of researchers found gender-specific traits that could lead to computer hacking among adolescents. The findings, co-authored by Thomas Holt, Jordana Navarro, and Shelly Clevenger, were published in the journal Crime & Delinquency.

At the start of the study, researchers set out to identify predictors of hacking behavior. Using the ISRD-2 study, they assessed 48,327 adolescents from different regions of the world.

“There is less research considering juvenile offending online, particularly examining involvement in property-based offenses such as computer hacking,” the findings state. “Criminological research has demonstrated the significant relationship between deviant peer associations, a lack of self-control, and individual delinquency.”

As part of the study, they analyzed how gender roles may be associated with a particular behavior, like self-control, deviant peer associations, among other traits. What researchers found was distinct differences in both genders. For male adolescents, video gaming and television were linked to hacking behavior, and for female adolescents, petty crimes, like shoplifting, increased the chances of hacking behavior.

Moreover, the findings also showed that adolescents who spent more time with peers saw an increased chance for influencing delinquent behavior among those residing in small cities. Earlier access to smartphones led to an increased chance of hacking, among those residing in larger cities. Pirating movies and music were also linked to hacking behavior.

“The findings demonstrated different correlates associated with hacking for males and females, as well as differences on the basis of urban and rural residency,” according to the findings.

“There is a general understanding that hacking starts in the early teens but until now, we weren’t clear on background factors, such as behavioral issues, the impact of social connections or personality traits,” said Thomas Holt, a professor at Michigan State University and the study’s lead author. “Our findings pointed us in the direction of thinking that there are gendered pathways to hacking.”