No more masculine Internet in Hungary?

07. 01. 2014.

The „male dominance” of the previous years has almost entirely vanished from the online world as the ratios of the two sexes have equalised. The Internet usage habits of Hungarian men and women are mostly in line with those in the European Union in general. The latest iteration of eNET-Telekom’s “Report on the Internet Economy” focuses on computer and Internet usage by the two sexes.

Computer usage

eNET’s research indicates that men adopted computers in their everyday lives sooner than women. While one third (34%) of men who regularly surf the Internet have been using computers for over 15 years, this ratio is only 27% for women. Apart from the past few years, computer usage has spread steadily amongst ladies, whereas the growth rate amongst men has gradually decreased.

In research conducted amongst regular Internet users older than 18 years of age, eNET examined whether people used computers or mobile phones (or maybe both devices to an equal extent) for certain activities such as e-mailing, games, listening to music etc. Neither sex limited any single activity to mobile phones; calendar usage was the closest, but both sexes use mobile phones and computers for that purpose. Both men and women perform most but not all of the activities on PCs. Thus computer usage dominates regardless of the user’s sex or the activity in question. About 57% of men perform most or all of their activities on computers, whereas this ratio is a much higher 71% for women. This indicates a shift towards more active mobile phone usage amongst men, while women follow the trend, albeit more slowly.

Internet usage

According to the NOK (Hungarian Readership Survey) conducted in Q3 2013 amongst 25,000 respondents, the frequency of Internet usage by men and women is very similar. Some three quarters of both sexes surf the Net every day; in fact, 47% of men and 43% of women go online several times a day. About 21% of men spend more than 25 hours a week online; the same figure for women is 16%. Two thirds (66%) of men and almost three quarters (72%) of women use the Internet for up to 20 hours a week.

Trailing Europe

Using data from Eurostat, eNET compared Internet usage habits in Hungary with those in other member countries of the European Union. In the age group 16-74 in the 28 EU member states (hereinafter: EU-28), one in five men and one in four women have never used the Internet, whether at home or at the workplace. These ratios are higher in Hungary: 25% of men and 27% of women have never been online).

In the EU-28, 73% of men and 67% of women use the Internet regularly, at least once a week. In Hungary, 71% of men and 68% of women surf the Net at least weekly, whether privately or in work. Consequently, we are in tune with the EU’s average in terms of regular Internet usage. Frequent (daily or almost daily) Internet usage statistics are also similar: 62% and 55% in the EU-28 for men and women, respectively, versus 60% and 56% in Hungary. Thus Hungary is aligned with the figures measured in the EU-28 concerning both Internet usage indicators.

Of the activities listed in figure 3, both men and women use the Internet primarily to find information on products or services. Concerning three activities (reading/downloading online news/publications; social media usage; uploading user generated content), the average ratios for both sexes significantly exceed the EU-28 average. On the other hand, Hungary is lagging far behind the EU’s level in terms of Internet banking.

What the future may bring: smart devices after the Internet?

In research conducted in September 2013, eNET also examined regular Internet users’ attitudes about smart devices that are already available but not necessarily wide-spread yet. These include tablets, smart watches, smart TVs or intelligent vacuum cleaners. While men and women usually held the same views, some devices divided them: 20% of men and 27% of women would buy tablet computers. However, men’s lower willingness to purchase such gadgets can partly be attributed to the fact that 19% of them already own a tablet, whereas this ratio is only 12% for women. Not surprisingly, opinions about intelligent vacuum cleaners were also varied: 19% of women but only 10% of men would buy one of these.

Shifting focus

Women’s presence in the online world is growing steadily; the previous male dominance has disappeared as the ratios of the two genders are now even. In fact, if the current tendency continues, women may outnumber men in cyberspace. This trend necessitates a shift in the focus of Internet professionals who will have to pay increasing attention to female users in general, and their preferences and information needs in particular.

eNET – Telekom

Some of the deviating results may be caused by difference between the methodologies applied in various EU member states.