Social networking reaches more women than men, study shows

Social networking websites reach more women than men around the world, according to a study released yesterday by comScore.

The Virginia-based internet research firm found 76 percent of all women online visit a social networking website, versus 70 percent of men. Women also spend more time on such websites than men, averaging 5.5 hours per month compared with 3.9 hours for men.

The findings mark a shift from the early days of the internet, when men accounted for the majority of internet usage, said comScore analyst Andrew Lipsman. Much of that shift can be attributed to the emergence of social media channels, he said, in which women are more likely to engage.

“It’s a natural extension of the differences between men and women,” he said, “including how they communicate and the frequency with which they communicate.” He added the gap between male and female internet usage was consistent all over the world.

Social networking’s reach among women is highest — at 94 percent — in Latin America, where local cultures encourage greater communication, Lipsman said. North American women ranked second at 91 percent, while in Asia, where many populations still face low broadband penetration, just 55 percent of women visited a social networking website.

The study, conducted in May, also found women are generating more e-commerce activity. They spend about 20 percent more time on retail websites than men — a figure that breaks down an old gender stereotype, Lipsman said.

“The conventional wisdom is that men are more functional shoppers and are more likely to be heavier online consumers,” he said. “That’s not true anymore.”

Even engaging in online vices is no longer an exclusively male territory. Women actively visited online gambling and adult content websites, Lipsman said.

“This is clearly a long-term cultural paradigm that we’re seeing,” he said. “Women are accelerating their internet usage and are building a solid majority over men.”

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