Psychologists at the University of Bath have found that the ways in which men and women use the Internet are becoming increasingly different.
Back in 2002 when the Internet was a completely different animal, the University of Bath Psychology department took a look at the ways in which men and women use the Web.
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608 undergraduate students (490 female and 118 male) were surveyed about their habits. The original study was entitled “Gender, Internet Identification, and Internet Anxiety: Correlates of Internet Use” Back then, the summary of habits read like this:
Males were proportionally more likely to have their own web page than were females.
They used the Internet more than females; in particular, they were more likely to use game websites, to use other specialist websites, and to download material from the Internet.
However, females did not use the Internet for communication more than males.
Getting in early on some research about the Internet of course means that you can do follow-up studies for comparison and of course this is what the Psych department of Bath did and the gap between the differences in the way that men and women use the web appears to be widening.
This time around, 501 students were surveyed, (389 female, 100 male and 12 participants unspecified gender). The study found that the introduction of social networking sites have made a difference in gender related habits.
The upsum of the new report:
In our previous research we had found no gender differences in the use of the Internet for communication, whereas in the current study we have found that females use the Internet for communication than males and were using social network sites more than males.
Dr Richard Joiner, lead author of the paper Gender, Internet Experience Internet Identification and Internet Anxiety: A ten year follow up said: “Our findings indicate that rather than transcending or overcoming gender differences in wider society, Internet use by males and females seems to reflect, and in some instances even exacerbate, these broader trends.
“In previous research we found no gender differences in the use of the Internet for communication, whereas in the current study we found gender differences in communication and that females were using social network sites more than males.”
The research found that the mean age students started using the Internet was 11 years old and they spend approximately 3.4 hours a day online.
Other observations in the study show that men are more likely to use the Internet for games and entertainment, online betting and news sites and as well as social networking, women are also more likely to make travel reservations online.
Dr Joiner said: “Gender differences in the use of the Internet are more a reflection of gender differences in wider society. It is important to continue to investigate these differences because of the importance of the Internet in virtually every aspect of our lives and the erroneous assumption that all young people have similar and high level of technology ability and experience.”
Research of this type can be useful in many sectors, especially when considering the placement and topic of marketing or advertising online. As with any debate about gender equality more generally, when it comes to men and women on the Web, you can still be equal, just different.
If you want to check out more of the research yourself, you can find the kinks on Dr Joiner’s pages.
Image Credit: elisaself