Rise Of Social Networks Triggers Gender Differences In Internet Use

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A decade ago psychologists from the University of Bath conducted a study into British online habits, finding no differences along gender lines in the use of the Internet for communication purposes.

However, much has changed in the intervening years and the follow-up study reveals that men and women now have different preferences, with the ladies favouring social networking sites and the gents emerging as partial to gaming, betting and music websites.

The new report, entitled “Gender, Internet experience, Internet identification and Internet anxiety: a ten year follow-up,” notes that the Internet has undergone considerable changes since the previous study was conducted. Advances in technology have made smartphones a major gateway to the web and the emergence of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest has created new communication tools. However, their introduction and the subsequent spike in their popularity has led to diverging preferences in Internet use and favourite activities. Women were found to be greater fans of social networks, as well as far more likely than men to use the Internet for mailing and calling. Male users, on the other hand, emerged as more interested in news, entertainment and gambling websites.

Dr Richard Joiner, lead author of the report, said that the gender differences in Internet use reflected those in wider society and it was important to investigate them given the overwhelming presence of the Internet in our everyday lives.

Additionally, the study established that UK students start using the Internet at the age of 11 on average and spend three hours daily online.