Young females making the net their own

Girls Online From The Times 09.03.08

A recent study by the Pew Internet Project in America on teens in social media found that blogging growth among teenagers is almost entirely fuelled by girls, whom it describe as a new breed of “super-communicators”. Some 35% of girls, compared with 20% of boys, have blogs; 32% of girls have their own websites, against 22% of boys.

Girls have embraced social networking sites on a massive scale, with 70% of American girls aged 15-17 having built and regularly worked on a profile page on websites such as MySpace, Bebo and Facebook, as opposed to 57% of boys of the same age.

Girls will browse, take a real journey around the site. Social networking has really captured a young female audience.

Matthew Bagwell, editor of My Kinda Place: “I put this down to girls being open to communicating, having longer attention spans and more widespread interests. We have to be inventive and diverse in our female content. Boys are easier, they will download pictures from galleries, viral ads and videos, but they’re in and out again.”

This survey confirms what I have suspected for a long time: females spend more time online now than ever before and have just about surpassed males in terms of logged internet hours per week. Females and teenage girls in particular are flocking to the internet and pushing out creative content in a way that males just never would. The fact this is happening could be deemed good or bad, depending on your viewpoint. Personally, I don’t believe it’s a bad thing in itself.

After all, how a person uses the internet is just an extension of their personality and lifestyle.  It's a modern medium for expression and should be openly welcomed and embraced as such.  Equally, there's a lot to be said for the educational and developmental value that a person gains from producing written or graphical content.  Surely allowing a person to explore their own creativity and produce thought provoking material as well as reading that produced by others is a positive thing?  Computer skills and knowledge gained in actively embracing a Web 2.0 lifestyle is yet another reason why a well-balanced, online life should be encouraged, not shunned. 

I don't like or agree with social networking sites per se - the types that promote the mindless generation of worthless material and shove it down your throat – yes, I’m referring to Facebook, My Space and all the rest here. Still, all things are healthy in moderation, I suppose and there’s no doubt that it’s a useful form of expression for young people. But when grown adults ceaselessly flock to Facebook every spare minute of their day, well, that just kills me.

None of this, of course, does anything to detract from the potential dangers faced by young people on such sites, but I don't want to 'spoil the Facebook party' for young people too much.  Kids will always be kids and have always had a natural ability to seek out danger from a seemingly benign activity.  You can argue all day over the pros and cons of young people embracing an online life but one thing is clear: the net is here to stay and will only keep on growing in importance. What's more, the disadvantages associated with getting left behind in this new, hyper-connected information age far outnumber the possible advantages of remaining overly reticent in embracing the internet. And that goes for young people as well.

Getting back to the article, it seems there are certain domains that are still more male oriented – such as online video sites like You Tube. That being said, females are very much the driving force behind the social networking revolution that is so much of what the Web 2.0 concept is all about. Another thing is also clear from the study: the actual innovations behind the technologies that are used to push out all of this creative content are almost invariably created by males. By extension, it is males who are generally using the internet as means of making money. That’s perhaps not all that surprising and in line with the perceived stereotypes of male and female skill-sets. The male, with his technical flair and innovation - offset with a lack of artistic temperament and short-attention span - engineers the technology in use. The female, on the other hand, makes best use of that technology and uses her artistic ingenuity, cultural wisdom and social aptitude to enjoy life to the full.

Well, something like that.

Comments

  1. Although of course there are some men who break this rule, finding plenty of things to do on the internet, from 7pm till 1am in the morning – you know who you are.

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  2. Yes, I know, I know. Some of us are just natural net-junkies I suppose. But talking of net addicts, I know of a certain girl who is an exception to 1 of the survey findings: that it is males who flock to video sharing sites such as YOU TUBE. She is as happy as a piggy in the proverbial on there, watching all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff. And you know who you are, too!! ;-)

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  3. '32% of girls have their own websites' - I bet they're not proper websites, which required some knowledge of html, php and Photoshop!

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  4. Good point Andro - it didn't refer to what did and did not constitute a website for the purposes of the survey. Anybody can throw something up using a template and I'm sure the majority of the kids' ones the story referred to would fall into this category.

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