Gender and Social Media Use

Gender and Social Media Use

Following its rapid growth in past decades, data regarding social media use has become increasingly important to collect. Research on the intersection of social media use and various demographics, particularly gender, have been conducted in the past. However, the literature frequently disagrees with itself as the data evolves over time, and many previous studies did not account for non-binary gender identities. This study aims to fill the gaps and provide updated information on how gender identity and social media use may be correlated in the present day. For this study, a survey asking about social media use, habits, and motivations across various popular platforms was taken by 42 adults. For many sites, uses, and motivations, there were no significant associations between gender and how social media was interacted with. When there was a significant association, it tended to be a positive correlation between increased social media use or using social media for entertainment and identifying as female. These results imply that while social media use has had more gender-based differences in the past, gender is no longer a significant predictor of how one uses social media. 


Despite having only existed for a relatively brief period, social networking sites have quickly become increasingly prevalent. In recent years, social media and the way users interact with it have evolved rapidly. 70.8% of college students admitted that their time spent on social media platforms increased drastically during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic (Parlak Sert & Başkale, 2023). In its short existence, numerous studies have been conducted on the varying ways in which people prefer to use social media. Though at first glance it may seem redundant to continue conducting further research on the factors that influence social media use and why, the constantly changing ways in which new social networking sites are developed and interacted with makes it necessary to continuously ask these questions.

The constant changes that social media platforms undergo means that research done on them can rapidly become outdated and no longer accurately reflect the current data.  Even if data has been collected recently, social media and the trends associated with it change at a rapid pace and the information will soon become outdated. Research conducted on social media use is not novel but is necessary to observe how the data changes over time. Social media’s constant changes have also led to gaps in the literature, as many of the existing studies do not always agree with each other.

The goals of this study are to identify the gender-based differences in social media use and motivations to use social media, and to understand why these differences exist. This study aims to fill the gaps in existing literature. Numerous studies on this subject have results that contradict similar studies, most likely due to how the values for the data collected will inevitably change as social networking trends do. This study intends to present data accurately reflecting what the gender differences in social media use and motivations are at the current time. The data collected in this study will fill a gap in research for this specific time period as well as provide future scholars with a reference to view how social media communications have changed since.

Literature Review
Literature Review

A current gap in the literature is that while there are many studies quantifying the differences in how men and women use social media, there are far less which explain why they use it differently. This study aims to find the differences in how each gender is currently using social media as well as identify how their motives and gratifications are different as well.


What are the different patterns of male and female social media use?

One thing that the literature can agree upon is that men and women do tend to use social media in different ways. A heavily cited study from Krasnova et al. (2017) found that men and women used social networking sites for both acquiring knowledge and growing relationships, but with differing specific motivations. Women used social media with the intention of maintaining existing relationships and gaining social knowledge about their associates, and men used social media with the intention of forming new relationships and gaining general knowledge. Prior studies have also observed that women are more likely than men to be problematic users of social media, meaning that they are more likely to struggle with regulating their use of social networking sites (Kircaburun et al., 2020). Many women report using social media out of boredom or because it has become a habitual pastime of theirs (Croes & Bartels, 2021), which may explain why they face difficulty controlling how frequently they use it. It can be expected that female users will exhibit greater amounts of time spent on social media than male users. 

Though previous studies agree there are gender differences in motivations for using social media, there are disagreements on these differences themselves. While Krasnova et al. (2017) stated that women use social media to gain social knowledge and men use it to gain general knowledge, a study two years later found that women often use social media for seeking general information as well. The results showed that women used Facebook for seeking knowledge more frequently than men do. Although they were using a social networking site, they were not seeking social knowledge. These women turned to social media and their social networks when looking for general information as well (Noguti et al., 2019).

Other studies have also contradicted the initial notion that more men use social media for informational purposes and more women use it for social purposes. Lokithasan et al. (2019) found that women prefer to follow social media influencers for general information on beauty and fashion. A study done on teenagers demonstrated teenage boys using social media more for communication and interaction with each other, and teenage girls using social media primarily for educational purposes (Ali et al., 2021). This directly contradicts the findings of Krasnova et al. (2017) from nearly a decade earlier. Almost no two studies entirely agree on what the gender differences in social media use are, depending on when the study was conducted and on the age of participants. This study is intended to fill the gaps that lead to these contradictions and develop a better understanding of what the current gender differences in social media use are, as well as the motivations behind them.

Does gender affect which social media platforms an individual uses?

Another significant difference observed in male and female social media use is in regard to which social media platforms they prefer to use. Shabir et al. (2014) found that men were more adventurous in their use of social media and were more open to trying out new social networking sites than women were. Though men are more interested in trying new social media platforms as they are introduced, women are generally more interested in using social media and other forms of mediated communication than men are (Kimbrough et al., 2013) but simultaneously display greater concerns regarding online privacy (Abd-Aziz & Abd-Aziz, 2020; Tifferet, 2019). This study aims to uncover whether women’s overall preference for social media has remained the same.

The most recent data from 2023 has established that significantly more women than men were using Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Significantly more men than women were using Reddit, and the other social networking sites accounted for did not have a drastic difference between the amount of male and female participants who reported using the platform (Sidoti et al., 2024). Although this addresses which platforms each gender prefers to use, it does not address how they prefer to use it. This study will examine the correlation between gender and social networking sites used as well as what motivated the user to spend time on that platform.

Why do the patterns of social media use differ between genders?

One theory as to why men and women exhibit different social media habits is that women are more concerned with their self-presentation and use social media for this purpose more than men do. Women care more than men about creating positive self-presentation when engaging in face-to-face communication (Haferkamp et al., 2012) which translates into their use of social networking sites as well. Women tend to post photos of themselves to Facebook and Instagram more frequently than men do to curate their self-presentation (Kearney, 2018), suggesting that the same motivation could translate to other social media platforms and that women have a greater interest in the gratification of self-presentation via social media sites. Men have used social media for the purpose of curating self-presentation as well, but typically do so in a more “self-promoting” manner and are more likely to reference mature topics such as alcohol use in their posts (Herring & Kapidzic, 2015) rather than try to appear in the most beneficial light.

Another proposed motivation for their differences in social media use is that women are more interested in the support they receive on social media than men are, and as a result place a greater emphasis on the community aspect of it. Women both give and receive greater social support on social networking sites than men (Tifferet, 2020), and appear to be more interested in community as a gratification of social media. This does correlate with prior findings that women use social media to maintain and strengthen relationships (Krasnova et al., 2017).



The data collection for this study was collected through a survey, due to it having the ability to be distributed to a greater population. The sample size for the survey was 42 participants.

The sample is comprised primarily of college students from Stony Brook University, as well as other adults who are interested in participating. The purpose of primarily sampling a young adult demographic is due to young adults tending to be more frequent users of social media, they are likely to have used it from a young age and are familiar with numerous sites. The sample for the survey was be recruited from mass communication classes at Stony Brook University, campus clubs and organizations, social media posts, and acquaintances outside of Stony Brook University who are primarily students at other colleges or recent graduates.

The survey is comprised of eight sections. Sections 1-7 each contain three matrix tables of statements regarding how the participant uses each popular social media site specified. These statements asked the participants to record how frequently they use certain functions of the site, whether they mostly use it intentionally or habitually, and the primary motivations for their use of the site. The final section of the survey asked questions identifying the demographics of the participant. The instrument used to administer the survey and collect data is Qualtrics. Once the data from the survey had been collected in Qualtrics, it was processed using Jamovi statistical software. The data was analyzed to compare the responses of participants based on their gender identity to examine similarities and differences in their uses and preferences of social media. Once all data from the survey had been processed, it was analyzed all together to understand how gender identity informs social media use and preferences.


Prior to performing any other analyses, reliability was tested for each variable. Due to the survey’s smaller sample size, the decision was made to take note of both marginal and statistical significance. For all items regarding Facebook, Tumblr, or Reddit, there were no significant differences between the answers of female respondents and respondents identifying as male or other genders. 

For Twitter/X, females more frequently used the site intentionally rather than out of habit or boredom. There were also statistically significant differences between females and respondents of other genders using Twitter/X, as females were more likely to use it for news and general information or for entertainment. For TikTok, females were statistically significantly more likely to use TikTok to promote a business, product, service or brand. Females more frequently post, like, comment, or share on Pinterest, as well as use the site intentionally rather than out of habit or boredom. In addition, females were statistically significantly more likely to use Pinterest for entertainment. There was marginal significance between respondents being female and frequently posting, liking, commenting, or sharing on Instagram. 


 The majority of results indicated that there were no significant differences between how people of each gender identity responded to many of the survey questions. There were a few items in the survey for which there were considerable differences. The platforms that saw the most differences between the habits and motivations of female users and users of other genders were Twitter and Pinterest.

The results were different from what was expected based on prior studies conducted. While previous research identified clear and distinct differences based on gender, this study found very few areas of social media use across various sites in which gender was a predictor of social media use and motivations. One possible explanation for how much these findings differed from the findings of previous studies is the smaller sample size used. For some questions, there were other factors that were stronger predictors than gender. For example, questions about Facebook showed that age was a greater predictor of use on that particular site than gender was. The findings of this study have emphasized that patterns between gender and social media do change over time and may eventually approach a point where gender cannot reliably predict social media use and motivations.

One limitation of the study was the use of a survey, which could only ask closed-ended questions. Participants did not have the ability to elaborate on their answers or provide specific details about their social media use for further context. Another limitation was the relatively small sample of respondents. Although the study’s results did not prove significant differences in social media use based on gender, when viewed alongside past research the lack of significant differences in these findings provides strong evidence that social media use and its associations with gender do change substantially over time.

These findings can be implemented in mass communication and social media marketing to gain a more complete understanding of the audiences using these social media sites and what their motivations and intentions are when using them. Future research could be conducted to identify the overall current demographics of social media sites, or to look for broader patterns between gender and social media use that are not site-specific.


The objective of this study was to gain an up-to-date understanding of how gender and social media use are correlated if they are at all. By collecting data through an online survey, adults of a wide variety of ages, races, genders and sexual orientations were able to be reached. Of 42 respondents, the majority were overwhelmingly female. Despite prior studies finding major differences in how men and women interacted with social media sites, this study found that gender was often not a significant predicting factor in how an individual uses social media. This could indicate that as social media has changed over the years, men, women, and non-binary people are beginning to use it in increasingly similar ways. Though this study did not reflect the same differences between gender and social media use that prior literature has, it has still contributed to demonstrating how online behaviors for all gender identities have changed alongside the landscape of social media. Overall, gender cannot significantly predict the ways in which people use social media at the present time.


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