Study Shows Women Are Smarter Than Men About Social Media
When it comes to managing their social media profiles, women, on average, behave more like mature, responsible adults while men act like impulsive adolescents.
That’s the takeaway from a new study on from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a project of the Pew Research Center. Pew’s researchers polled 2,277 adults for the report, titled “Privacy management on social media sites.” They found that social network users in general are more active when it comes to editing their connections, managing their reputations and making use of privacy controls than they were just a few years ago.
But when they broke down the data by gender, an interesting pattern emerged. Women are behaving more cautiously than men, and men are feeling the negative consequences.
The difference begins with privacy settings. A full two-thirds of female users allow only friends to view their Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace pages without restrictions, while fewer than half of male users do so. Some 26% of men choose the most public setting for their profiles versus only 14% of women.
Not only are women more likely to restrict their sharing to those within their circles; they’re also more apt to kick people out of the circle. Asked whether they have deleted people from their networks, 67% of women said yes, compared with 58% of men.
Share in haste, repent at leisure. Perhaps because they’re not as careful about controlling who sees their social media feeds, men are substantially more prone to regret the content they post there. Nearly twice as many men as women (15% vs. 8%) regretted something they had posted. In other words, for every Octavia Nasr — the female CNN correspondent fired for praising a Hezbollah leader on Twitter — there are two Roland Martins — the male CNN commentator suspended for tweets some felt were homophobic.
In this regard, men resemble the youngest users Pew polled, adults age 18-29, among whom 15% of users likewise said they regretted posting a piece of content. Among the oldest users, the rate of regret was only 5%. This even though Pew found no substantial differences in use of privacy settings across the different age groups. And when it comes to active pruning of social networks (ie. “unfriending”), young users are actually more likely to do so than older users.