Impact of the Internet in Our Life

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Computers in Human Behavior
Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2005–2013 www.elsevier.com/locate/comphumbeh

Impact of the Internet on our lives: Male and female personal perspectives Ann Colley *, John Maltby
School of Psychology, University of Leicester, Henry Wellcome Building, Lancaster Road, Leicester LE1 9HN, UK Available online 30 October 2007

Abstract Gender differences in Internet access and usage have been found in a number of previous investigations. The study reported here extends this work by providing an analysis of the impact of the Internet on men’s and women’s lives. A content analysis of 200 postings from men and 200 from women, on the topic of ‘‘Has the Internet changed your life’’ invited by a news website, was undertaken then examined for gender differences. Results showed more women’s postings mentioned having made new friends or having met their partner, renewing old friendships, accessing information and advice, studying online, and shopping and booking travel online, while more men’s postings mentioned that the Internet had helped or given them a career, positive socio-political effects, and negative aspects of the technology. The results are interpreted as supporting the view that the Internet represents an extension of broader social roles and interests in the ‘‘offline’’ world. Ó 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: Internet; Gender; Gender roles; Gender differences

1. Introduction ‘‘The Internet is my job, my high street, my supermarket and my international social playground’’ (Female participant 63). Usage of the Internet continues to increase worldwide. In the UK 57% of households now have access, in comparison to 46% four years ago (National Statistics, 2006). The *

Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 (0) 116 229 7188; fax: +44 (0) 116 229 7196. E-mail address: aoc@le.ac.uk (A. Colley).

0747-5632/$ - see front matter Ó 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2007.09.002

2006

A. Colley, J. Maltby / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2005–2013

Digital Future Project in the US has found that 78.6% of Americans went online in 2005, with an accompanying increase in the amount of time spent per week on the Internet (Centre for the Digital Future, 2005). A number of factors have been found to relate to access and use, including socioeconomic variables, demographic variables, and education (e.g. Bimber, 2000; Wasserman & Richmond-Abbott, 2005). One significant area of research over the last decade has investigated the impact of the Internet upon different social groups and inevitably work on gender differences has been at the forefront, with concerns about the presence and impact of a ‘‘gender gap’’ in Internet access and usage. A number of investigators (e.g. Sherman et al., 2000) have investigated this gender gap in Internet use. Bimber (2000) found gaps in both access and use among US adults, and concluded that, while access differences can be accounted for by socioeconomic and other factors that affect women and men differentially, the gap in use was due at least in part to gender-specific factors such as the male stereotype of computers, cultural associations between gender and technology and gendered cognitive and communication preferences. However, there is growing evidence that the gender gap in access is closing or has closed with more women coming online, and that the gap in use of the Internet is still present but may also be closing (e.g. Cummings & Kraut, 2002; Ono & Zavodny, 2003; Wasserman & Richmond-Abbott, 2005). There continues to be a gender gap in usage in the UK: the latest figures from adults in a nationally representative sample of UK households show that 40% of women had never used the Internet in comparison with 30% of men, and 55% of women had used the Internet within the 3 months prior to the survey in comparison with 65% of men (National Statistics, 2006). In addition, there are...
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