The BBC has run a story on Nielsen research showing that the most prevalent users of the Internet in the UK are women aged 18-25. There are more men by number, but it seems that young women are visiting more websites and spending more time online. It seems that these women are advanced Internet users using the web for shopping and gathering parenting advice. But this phenomenon isn’t limited to just the United Kingdom. The worldwide industry indicators of the online female migration are there as well: online sales of clothing recently surpassed computer gear for the first time, and almost 40% of video gamers are women. Video games may just be the most female-friendly area of technology out there right now as companies are aggresively trying to expand the customer base beyond the typical 17 year-old boy.
This is just a basic shift in the make-up of the online communities to better reflect the social structures of the outside world. These gender demographic changes aren’t unusual considering the recent changes in ethnic make-up effecting online communities. In fact, ten years ago it was a rarity to come across Continental Africans, Arabs, or Indians in the most popular online communities. Part of that exclusion was the state of proliferation in Internet technologies, and another was the language barrier which has since been overcome through localized services (and a lot of people learning English).
Beyond that, we’re even seeing the age barrier disappear. I have a pair of 92 year-old friends who carry their laptops to Starbucks daily to read their email, and they fit right in with the other coffee house patrons. My local neighborhood is a melting pot of different people, and I like my Internet to be the same way.
Above image from the Flickr stream of Ryan McGinnis