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Men want action and women value interaction
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-30 05:50

Internet users share many common interests, but men are heavier consumers of news, stocks, sports and pornography while more women look for health and religious guidance, a broad survey of US web usage has found.

The study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project released yesterday finds men are slightly more intense users of the web. Men log on more frequently and spend more time online. More men also have access to quick broadband connections than do women.

"Once you get past the commonalities, 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 per cent acknowledging they go online to pass time, compared with 63 per cent of women. Men are more likely than women to listen to music, view webcams and pay for digital content.

But women are catching up in several areas measured by the survey, and intensive use by younger women suggests some of the gaps will continue to narrow.

Already, women 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.

Both genders look to the web as a font of information and as an efficient communications tool, said Fallows in an interview.

Overall, the percentage of men and women who use the web are nearly equal. Roughly 68 per cent of men and 66 per cent of women report making use of the web, up from 20 per cent of the US population Pew found in 1995, when men made up 58 per cent of the online audience.

Over the past decade, men have proved more willing to engage in riskier encounters or transactions, such as joining chat rooms, bidding in online auctions or trading stocks. Auctions attract 30 per cent of men versus 18 per cent of women.

In addition, 21 per cent of males confess to looking at porn online compared with just 5 per cent of females, the Pew survey has found. This area is notoriously difficult to measure and may be underreported by survey respondents, Fallows said.

Meanwhile, 74 per cent of women seek health or medical information online, far more than the 58 per cent of men who do so. Thirty-four per cent of women seek religious information from the web versus 25 per cent of men. Such differences mirror gender differences in the offline world, Fallows noted.

Men go online more frequently, as 44 per cent use the web several times daily versus 39 per cent of women.

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, and phishing.

Based on responses by thousands of US web users to a questionnaire covering 90 areas of online activity, the Pew report finds some of the gender differences to be generational. Girls and young women are more facile with technology-intensive activities than older generations of women appear to be.

Eighty-six per cent of women ages 18-29 are web users, compared with 80 per cent of men. But 34 per cent of men 65 and older use the Internet, compared with 21 per cent of elderly women.


(China Daily 12/30/2005 page1)

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