FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Internet Becomes More Diverse

A recent Pew Internet & American Life survey shows that women are leapfrogging onto the Internet, their numbers now equalling those of men online. In fact, due to their greater share of the US population, American women make up a greater share of the online US population than American men. In the 18-29 age bracket, 86% of women are online, compared with 80% of similarly aged men. Additionally, the numbers of black women online have surged over the past several years, outnumbering black men online by 10%.

Not surprisingly, men and women are attracted to the Internet for different reasons:

"Once you get past the commonalties, men tend to be attracted to online activities that are far more action-oriented, while women tend to value things involving relationships or human connections," said Deborah Fallows, a research fellow at Pew and author of the report.

A larger number of men surf the Internet for pleasure, with 70 percent acknowledging they go online to pass time, compared with 63 percent of women. Men are more likely than women to listen to music, view Webcams and pay for digital content...

[W]omen are heavier users of e-mail, often going beyond the matter-of-fact responses of male correspondents to use e-mail to share stories, solve issues and reach out to a wider network of friends and family...

In addition, the survey found men feel more in control of their computers. Far more men fix their own computers, for instance. Men also are more likely to be aware of the latest technology jargon--terms like spam, firewall, spyware, adware, phishing and RSS.

The survey also noted that men are more likely than women to have high-speed Internet connections, affecting their ability to access games, video and other high-bandwidth content.

Ultimately, the report found that the major dividing line in Internet use is generational rather than gender. Only 34% of men over 65 are online, but they outnumber their female counterparts by 13%.

Source: CNET