Women 'spending more time than men' on the Net

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The Independent Online

British women are for the first time spending more time online than men, a survey released yesterday suggests.

British women are for the first time spending more time online than men, a survey released yesterday suggests.

Of 13.9 million people who logged on from home during May, 58 per cent, or 8 million, were men and 42 per cent, or 5.9 million, were women, said NetValue, an internet research company.

However, the women racked up more minutes online ­ a total of 462 minutes a month (an average of 15 minutes a day) against the men's 414 minutes (an average of 13 minutes 20 seconds a day).

"Women were viewing more pages than the men," said Jannie Cahill, marketing manager for NetValue UK. "I think it indicates that they are becoming more confident about using the internet. Also, sites aimed at women are making a showing on the Net."

The NetValue data showed that women looked on average at 412 unique pages, while men looked at 347. That may indicate that men, who generally have been on the Net longer than women, have become creatures of habit in the sites they visit, and unwilling to branch out to new ones.

But the success of the women's sites does not make them exclusively attractive to females: one-third of all visitors to "women's websites" such as handbag.com, the most visited women's site, were men.

Though the figures for time spent online might seem encouraging, they show little progress from a year ago, and suggest that home use is still held back by the perceived cost of using the Net.

Yet Oftel, the telecoms regulator, released a separate study yesterday suggesting that internet access is cheaper in Britain than in California ­ the original home of logging on.

A six-country survey found that British internet users paid an average of £18 a month for unlimited access, £1 less than in California and £21 less than in Germany.

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