TV by Gender: Drawn to the Remote Control

<i> Frager</i> ,<i> an assistant sports editor for The Baltimore Sun</i> ,<i> writes on the sports media</i>

Into the Great Remote Control Debate, let me throw another factor: genetics.

You may have observed that the preponderance of persons using remote controls to alight from television channel to television channel like the leading man who goes from bed to bed in one of those Italian farces where the mouths are never in sync with the dialogue.

Well, I am here to tell you we cannot help it.

In my home, there are two males and two females. The female adult uses the remote control to turn on the television, select a station, remain on that station for the length of whatever program she chooses and then turn off the set.


The female child, when she is allowed to handle the remote--usually when the adults in the house are unconscious--has her own style. She turns on the set, flips through channels until reaching a cartoon and then stays locked in until one of the adults has told her 25 times to turn off the television.

As the male adult takes remote control in hand, he is sure of one thing: There is something better on another channel. He spends the next 10 minutes, 10 hours or 10 days trying to confirm this belief.

And even if it does not prove true on the first, second, third or fourth go-round of the 30 or so channels, that does not stop him. He is like a shark; he must move forward to survive.

That brings us to the male child. All of 14 months old, he is too young to appreciate the Chaplinesque nuances of Alvin and the Chipmunks.


Still, unlike his sister at the same age, he is drawn to the remote control. He grabs it with one hand, holds it aloft, bangs it on the coffee table, flings it to the floor, picks it up again.

There is something about the remote control that draws the male, and it is not just the convenience of changing channels without having to move the box of Cheez-Its balancing on your stomach. It is the same thing that drove Columbus--the need to explore.