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Chatrooms are dominated by young women, study finds

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Teenage girls are outnumbering their spotty male counterparts online in the UK, according to a report by Fletcher Research. The survey of over 40,000 Web users also showed that the stereotypical 'anorak', or IT-obsessed male, no longer applied to the majority of those logging on. "The Web population increasingly resembles the UK population as a whole," it found. Although 60 per cent of Web users were male, researchers found the male:female ratio varied dramatically with age. Silver surfers were mostly men, accounting for 81 per cent of users aged 55 or above. But women were showing their strength in the younger market –- they outnumbered men in users aged 17 or less. Women dominated teenage chat online -– 57 per cent used it against 44 per cent of men. Teenage boys were more likely to use the Web for entertainment, or for downloading software and music. Email was popular in both camps -– 71 per cent of girls and 77 per cent of boys used it. The overall ratio of men:women online was 3:2, down from nearly 2:1 in last December. The average age of user was slightly up -– 36 from 33. The research also looked into the rise in Web use after the launch of subscription-free ISPs like Dixons' FreeServe. It said there were ten million adults regularly using the Internet, up three million from December 1998. Fletcher Research said this confirmed its own forecasts of 18 million regular users in the UK by 2003. ®

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