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The pizza-faced bespectacled geek is dead Long live the middle class prosperous geekettes Middle-aged women are joining the Net far faster than any other social group and are more likely to admit that they are hooked, according to a study carried out by the University of Hertfordshire. The rise of the blue rinsers echoes another trend that Net addicts are more likely to be middle-class, working women in their early thirties. This "respectable" picture is in sharp contrast to the now defunct idea that the Net is populated by spotty youths with as much personality as the ex-FA boss Graham Kelly. And regardless of whether they're online or not, it appears that women prefer to spend their time gossiping either through e-mail or in chat rooms. Before any serial misogynists start nodding their heads in agreement, they should be aware that men, typically, prefer to spend their time playing games, downloading software or reading messages posted on newsgroups. This more insular activity clearly demonstrates a difference between the sexes in their online habits and that women have a far more sociable approach to the Net. Unfortunately, the research also confirms earlier studies that suggest there is a link between Net usage and depression, which is just as likely to affect men as women. ®

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