Online Nation 2022: Ofcom urges tech firms to keep women safer online

Real-world concerns about women’s safety and wellbeing are mirrored in the online world, according to figures from Ofcom’s major annual study into the nation’s online lives.

Our findings reveal that women in the UK are avid users of social media platforms, spending more than a quarter of their waking hours online – around half-an-hour each day more than men (4hrs 11 min vs. 3hrs 46min). But for many women, life online is not always a positive experience.

We found that while the majority of people say the benefits of being online outweigh the risks, women are considerably less likely than men to agree (63% vs. 71%). Similarly, fewer women are confident about their online safety (64% vs. 73% of men). 

Female participants in our research say they feel less able to share their opinions and have a ‘voice’ online (42% compared to 48% of men). Women are also less likely than men to feel free to be themselves online (33% vs. 39%). For many, life online can replicate harmful discriminatory dynamics that exist in wider society.

As well as looking in detail at the harms people encounter online, Online Nation 2022 builds a comprehensive picture of the online landscape in the UK today. It delves into our broader online use, experiences and behaviours – everything from gaming to online dating – as well as the tech companies behind them. We also gaze into our crystal ball to predict what the future online landscape might look like.

A summary of the major online trends seen over the last year is available on Ofcom’s news centre, along with an interactive report.