Psychologists from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, England, have discovered in their research that over the past 10 years, the difference between how men and women use the Internet has become even more significant.

While surfing the Internet, men were more likely to visit entertainment, games and music websites. Women, on the other hand, were more apt to check out social networking sites, researchers claim.

After the introduction of Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, women started to focus most of their time surfing on these types of sites. While some men are still interested in social networking online, women spent considerably more time on these sites than men.

The researchers decided to do a follow up on the study they had carried out 10 years before, looking out for differences between the study in 2002 and 2012. Out of six universities, almost 500 first year undergraduate students (389 women, 100 men) participated, with an average age of 20.

Dr. Richard Joiner, author of 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.”

Social networking websites have changed the dynamics in our society considerably

Since the advent of new social networking sites, results show that the difference between men and women on Internet usage is greater than it was 10 years before.

Most women would rather spend their time interacting with friends online, checking for interesting gossip, and posting or looking at photos. Women are more concerned with communication. While the majority of men, on the other hand, don’t enjoy social networking as much as their female counterparts do. They prefer playing games, betting for upcoming sports games, or visiting music sites.

Dr. Joiner said:

“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 study revealed that students start using the Internet when they are about 11 years old, and spend about 3.4 hours a day online. However, as results showed, the hours spent online by men and women differ greatly.

Men spend their time entertaining themselves by playing games and checking news sites, while women spend their time communicating online and checking social sites. The study also revealed that women are more likely to make travel reservations online.

Dr. Joiner wrote:

“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.”

As the role of the Internet becomes a deeper and more integral part of people’s lives, it is vital that we further our understanding on how it fits in the social aspects of our daily living.

Written by Sarah Glynn