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Teen Girls and Boys Don't Have Equal Access to Mobile Phones Worldwide

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A new global study has exposed a stark gap in cell phone access between teen girls and boys.

In a survey of more than 3,000 teenage girls and boys in 25 countries, titled “Real Girls, Real Lives, Connected,” researchers found that for every 15 boys who own a phone, only 10 girls do, reported NPR.

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"People say that the girl who touches the phone is a bad girl," a 15-year-old Bangladeshi girl told researchers about her community.

Those sentiments were echoed by myriad respondents in other countries, who also admitted to sometimes circumventing restrictions set by their parents by using someone else’s device.

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"I use the phone to check my Gmail, Instagram, WhatsApp, and look for new dish recipes. Sometimes, we also look up new henna designs on YouTube," 15-year-old Riya, in the northeastern state of Bihar, India, told researchers about exploring platforms on her neighbor’s phone.

Riya's parents allow her 13-year-old brother to use a phone, but worry that social media would negatively influence his older sister, reported NPR.

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The study reconfirms previous research on girls and phone use conducted by Gina Porter, a professor of anthropology at Durham University in the UK who has been researching mobile phone use in sub-Saharan Africa for the past decade.

In fact, in some parts of South Africa, it wasn't uncommon for men to offer phones to young women in exchange for a sexual favors, she said.