Gender Differences in Internet Usage among College Students: A Comparative Study

By Thanuskodi, S. | Library Philosophy and Practice, November 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Gender Differences in Internet Usage among College Students: A Comparative Study


Thanuskodi, S., Library Philosophy and Practice


1. Introduction

Internet use is spreading rapidly into daily life, and directly affecting people's ideas and behavior. Internet has an impact in many areas including the higher education system. Internet heralded the development and implementation of new and innovative teaching strategies in higher education institutions. Educators who advocate technology integration in the learning process believe it will improve learning and prepare students to effectively participate in the 21st century workplace. Internet use has become a way of life for the majority of higher education students all around the world. For most college students the Internet is a functional tool, one that has greatly changed the way they interact with others and with information as they go about their studies. They use computers to accomplish a wide range of academic tasks. Many students prepare course assignments, make study notes, tutor themselves with specialized multimedia, and process data for research projects. Most exchange emails with faculty, peers, and remote experts. They keep up to-date in their fields on the Internet, accessing newsgroups, bulletin boards, listservs, and web sites posted by professional organizations. Most access library catalogs, bibliographic databases, and other academic resources in text, graphics, and imagery on the World Wide Web (Asan & Koca, 2006). Usun (2003) mentioned that Internet is appealing to higher education for a number of reasons: it reduces the time lag between the production and utilization of knowledge; it promotes international co-operation and exchange of opinions; it furthers the sharing of information; and it promotes multidisciplinary research.

2. Gender and Internet

There are numerous debates on the link between gender and Internet usage. Many researchers are aware of gender inequality in Internet usage. However, inequalities are not only reflected in Internet technology but also in numerous aspects such as in education politics, and workforce. Norris's (2001) studies in Europe on Internet access highlights that social economic or individual factors may be significant for the understanding the Internet access. Even then, Winker (2005) has a different view, as the writer mentioned that there is a still gender specific difference that cannot be explained just by studying the differences in education or even in income and its effect on Internet usage. Teo and Lim's (1997) study in Singapore indicated that there is a deferential access between boys and girls in terms of technology. They indicated that internet users in Singapore are predominantly males with females comprising only about 11 percent of Internet users. Their study found that females and males engage in different activities. Females spend more time on the Internet for messaging activities, promotional campaigns while males are more into downloading and purchasing activities. Thus to certain extent, male and female do use the Internet for different purposes.

Liu and Wilson (2001) argued that information technology has taken the world by storm and is changing the way businesses learn, consequently rushing their development across the globe; it cannot be denied that the entire generation that is growing up with new technology is likely to have different expectations and experience towards the use of digital media. Early involvement of women with digital technology was restricted. In the year 1995, when Internet usage increases dramatically, many women were not in favor with it. However, the transition of developed society has changed how women engage themselves to the Internet. With these changes, the women involvement has become more visible. Moreover, Sherman, End, Kraan, Cole, Campbell, Birchmeier and Klausher (2000) mentioned that although the majority of Internet users are men, but the gender gap among users has narrowed. This can be supported by Heimrath and Goulding's (2001) study on students and members of the public at librarian in Southborough and Slough in which it concluded that female interest and confidence in using the Internet is high but when a comparison with male respondents is made, the females has not taken Internet rapidly. …

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