Technology & Science

Facebook: women rule

Women spend more time on Facebook, have more Facebook friends, and upload five times more photos than men, researchers say.

Facebook users more socially, politically engaged, U.S. study finds

Women spend more time on Facebook, have more Facebook friends, and upload five times more photos than men, researchers say.

Those of are some of the behavioural differences between men and women observed on Facebook by psychologists at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

Emily Christofides, a Ph.D. candidate and a member of the research group, said it appears that women invest more in their online image compared to men.

"Being more active [on Facebook] keeps you in other people's minds more," she said in an interview with journalist Dan Falk that airs on CBC Radio's Spark on Sunday. "So if men are less concerned about this, then their online presence just may be less."

A U.S. survey released this week showed that women typically outnumber men on social networks — women made up 58 per cent of Facebook users, 57 per cent of MySpace users and 64 per cent of Twitter users. However, a majority of LinkedIn members — 63 per cent — were men.

The Pew Internet phone survey of 2,255 U.S. adults conducted in the fall of 2010 found 47 per cent of adults and 59 per cent of internet users said they were on at least one social network, up from 26 per cent of adults and 34 per cent on internet users in 2008.

More than half were over 35 years old. The survey results are considered accurate plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Christofides said one notable difference between men and women on Facebook is that women are more concerned about their presence on their romantic partner's Facebook profile, either in a photo or in their relationship status.

She finds Facebook interesting because it provides a platform where psychologists can observe people's interactions without affecting them — something that's usually difficult to do.

Michael Stefanone, a psychologist at the University of Buffalo, said interactions on Facebook aren't that different from those in real life.

"When I look at Facebook, what I'm looking at it as a platform to compete for attention and people are competing for attention in ways that they've been doing for many years, before Facebook came along."

He added that sharing photos online is one way many young women now compete for attention.

While some people have speculated that investing a lot in social networking can keep people from participating in the real world and hurt their real relationships, the study released this week by the Pew Internet report shows that concern isn't justified.

Facebook users have more close relationships

"We've found the exact opposite — that people who use sites like Facebook actually have more close relationships and are more likely to be involved in civic and political activities," according to astatement by Keith Hampton, lead author of the report.

The study found Facebook users were more trusting, had closer relationships and were more politically engaged than other internet users. Facebook users:

  • Were 43 per cent more likely than other internet users to feel that most people can be trusted.
  • Had nine per cent more close ties in their overall social network compared to other internet users.
  • Were 2½ times more likely to attend a political rally or meeting, 43 per cent more likely to say they would vote, and 57 per cent more likely to persuade someone else to vote a certain way if they used Facebook multiple times a day.