I was recently looking at some research that discussed how men and women use the Internet. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project report, How Women and Men Use the Internet, men and women use the Internet equally to do many activities, but there are also several activities with gender differences worth noting. Women lead men in use of email, looking for health information, getting support for personal problems, and getting religious information. Men lead women in usage of the Internet for product research, checking news and sports, and downloading software and music. (see more detail in the chart below)

Online activities: Where men’s and women’s use of the internet differs
Activities where Women lead Activities where Men lead Activities done Equally
Send email Research product/service Use a search engine
Get maps or directions Check news, sports, weather Get info on hobbies
Look for health and medical info Use do-it-yourself website Get travel info and make reservations
Get support for a medical issue or personal problem Get financial info Surf the web for fun
Get religious/spiritual info Do job-related research Buy a product
  Download a computer program Get political campaign news
  Rate a product, service, person Research for school/training
  Download music files Watch video/listen audio
  Do online auction Look up phone/addresses
    Get Info on a job
    Take a virtual tour
    Get info on a college
    Instant message

 Here are some other interesting tidbits from the Pew report:

  • “Men like the Internet for the experiences it offers, while women like it for the human connections.”
  • “Men value the Internet for the breadth of experience it offers; women value it for enriching their relationships.”
  • “Parents are more likely to be online than nonparents… There is a dramatic 80% online rate for both mothers and fathers, compared with about a 60% rate for others.”
  • “Women emailed more than men about getting together, to discuss worries, to pass along personal news and information about jobs or other activities.”
  • “More women than men said email expands their circle of colleagues at work; makes them more available to co-workers; helps them stay current with events at work; saves them time; and liberates them from being tied to the office.”
  • In times of emergency, more men than women said the Internet helped them learn what was going on, while more women than men said it helped them connect with people they needed to reach.
  • Significantly more women than men feel overloaded by the growing volumes of information online.
  • “Men are more enthusiastic than women about using the Internet as kind an entertainment center.”
  • “More men than women try the new technologies… Men push the tech edge more than women.”
  • “Teen girls are breaking the online mold for women… trying out the newest and more challenging online technologies as much as boys are.”

I was doing this research in an effort to find answers to a couple of questions: 1) How can the Internet be utilized to help parents teach the gospel to their children? and 2) How can we use the Internet to help members in remote areas (who do not have access to Church buildings) learn the gospel and serve one another?

The research cited above didn’t completely answer our questions, but it did give us some further insights. For example, the data shows that women use the Internet more than men to find gospel resources, get support for personal challenges, facilitate communication and strengthen relationships.  With the growing number of single mothers in the world and in the Church, perhaps the research indicates that the Internet could be a medium to give these sisters greater support in their efforts to raise their children in righteousness.  For members who live far from a Church building, perhaps the communication and relationship findings indicate a need for the Church to provide a robust set of two-way communication tools.  The Internet could be a way for remote members to serve and strengthen one another with virtual home teaching, online webinar-like Sunday School classes, and so forth.

What do you think?  How could the Church better utilize the Internet to help parents teach the gospel to their children?  And how could the Church better utilize the Internet to help members who live far from Church buildings learn the gospel and serve one another?

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