Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why Do Men and Women Differ on Social Networking Sites?

Based on the readings, there are significant gender differences in the way men and women use social networking sites (namely, Facebook). According to Watkins and Lee, those discrepancies include women being more likely to post comments, "like" things, engage in personal conversation, and post photos. On the other side, men are more likely to post links to current events, and news related topics, and post videos to their wall (Watkins/Lee p11). Why do these differences exist?

There are a variety of reasons for this, the most significant being the way men and women are socialized. Women are brought up to value friendships and social interaction. This likely accounts for the increased number of photos posted and engaging in personal conversation on Facebook. Conversely, men are brought up to be opinionated and more individualistic. This explains the fact that men are more likely to post their views and links supporting them as opposed to commenting on other people's walls.

The difference in socialization also accounts for the fact that women are more likely than men to keep up with long distance friends. According to the study, 55% of females find it very important to communicate with friends who live in a different state or country while only 34.7% of men believe the same thing (Watkins/Lee p14). In the 20 or so psychology classes I've taken, it has become very clear that women are brought up to be more family oriented as well, and are more likely to be caretakers for elderly family later in life. Again, the familial socialization of women comes into play when it comes to the importance of communicating with family. 40.3% of women find it very important to chat with kin on Facebook whereas only 26.4% of men feel the same.

Though socialization is not the only reason for differences, I believe it is the strongest motivator for the discrepancies.


  1. Matt,
    I think that your take on the gender differences of networking sites is very interesting! Like you, I have also taken quite a few psychology courses and indeed you learn, in alomst all of them, about gender socialization in some way. I thought it was interesting that you mentioned this because I was wondering how you felt about the results of the study you mentioned? Do you feel that you fit into these percentages or do you feel that you are an exception? I, being a woman, feel that the results seem to be quite accurate, in my experiences with social networking sites at least. I think that one of the ways in which we are socialized to act a certain way in accordance to our gender, is to learn about how men and women have been socialized in the past. To me, this furthers the socialization process and continues gender specific behaviors.

  2. Women definitely use social networking sites specifically Facebook to keep in touch with family. Most of their status updates involve some mention of family, or kids. I also noticed they are more likely to fill out or give friends a title. For example, John Smith (cousin). Where as men post, but it is usually about their Call Of Duty W-L record! Who does that? <---this guy!

  3. There is defiantly a significant difference between the way men and women use social networks. women seem to be more actively involved for example in Facebook, rather than men. I think that men seem to post about less personal experiences and remain more general whereas women like to do the opposite. Women use these networks to keep an ongoing relationship between family and friends from far distances, or just in general, whereas men seem to do the same, but in smaller numbers. They also like to make new friends on the networks, whereas women seem to not be so involved that way. This is from my own personal experiences with Facebook and MySpace.

  4. i rally like how you analyzed the gender differences through psych! your explanations definitely correlate i believe.i can totally spot those trends you mention about women liking more and men stating an opinion and etc. i mean obviously it varies more or less bbut for the most part i can see it as quite accurate.

  5. Funny stuff... I got a good laugh, definitely fits my friends...

    What does Facebook change with in this respect. Do you think it is limited to the long distance relationships, or do other factors come into play?

  6. Come to think of it, I can probably count on one hand the number of times a female friend has posted a link to a video on Facebook! I also don't talk to many of my "long distance" Facebook friends haha.

    There are actually some pretty big differences between the sexes when using social networking websites. If somebody were to ever design a new social networking website aimed at only one of the sexes, it would be wise to take these differences into account.