Study connects gender, Facebook use

AddThis

In a comprehensive study of Facebook, a UT professor and graduate student identified major differences between the way people of different genders and ethnicities use the social networking site. Radio-television-film associate professor Samuel Watkins and radio-television-film graduate student H. Erin Lee conducted a survey of about 900 college students and recent college graduates from multiple states. “We wanted to identify with greater precision some of the complex factors that impact how people use social media,” Watkins said. Watkins said the team identified a clear distinction between how men and women use Facebook. “Women were more likely to indicate that they posted photos,” Watkins said. “But they put photos up that were of family gatherings, friends and more personal photos. Men were more likely to report than women that they posted photos that were more functional, as opposed to intimate.” He said men would be more likely to post pictures of their hobbies and links to current news stories. Although the content of what men and women share is different, the amount they share is very similar. “We knew anecdotally that both men and women use social media,” he said. “We had some evidence based on other research that we had done that men and women are different in their motivations in using social media and how they use social media in terms of what they do.” Undeclared freshman Akshay Vijay said he thinks the findings make sense because women are in general more open about their personal lives and are usually concerned with creating connections. “Men usually don’t publicly show much interest in those things but instead would use Facebook as a tool to expand their interests through networking,” Vijay said. Applied Learning and Development freshman Lauren Dever agreed with the information comparing men’s and women’s uses of Facebook. “My dad is constantly posting stuff about electronics and ‘nerdy’ stuff,” Dever said. “My mom just posts things about her day or family. But the same goes with people our age. Guys posts things about the news or electronics while girls post song lyrics or stuff about their weekends.” The study also revealed African-Americans use Facebook as a source of news and information more than any other ethnicity. “African-Americans see social media as a gateway to get involved in civic life and politics and current affairs,” Watkins said. He also said there was speculation years ago Latinos did not use Facebook as much as other ethnicities, but the study proves the early claim wrong. Watkins said he was surprised to find about half of people who play games such as Farmville are college graduates.