CHENNAI: The sex ratio may be skewed in many Indian cities, but urban women are driving the growth in internet usage, says a survey. The survey across 35 cities found 30% growth in number of urban women using internet, compared to the 25% increase in men.

Experts say the results of the study conducted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Internet Market Research Bureau (IMRB) show a delightful trend that could break old patterns and pave way for creating a balanced male-female user ratio of netizens.

Mumbai has the most internet users, while Chennai has the slowest growth rate. The number of users grew the most in Delhi with 50%, while Chennai recorded only 24% growth.

The 35 cities together recorded a growth rate of 62% among female college students and 34% among school-going girls. The numbers have busted the common perception that males are the dominant users of the internet.

IAMAI associate vice-president Nilotpal Chakravarti attributed the growth to galloping smartphone use. “More women are going online, thanks to smartphones. Even the less affluent women are able to access the internet through low-priced feature-enabled phones. This is a welcome trend.”

Chakravarti says still the male-female user ratio in India is around 70:30. “The numbers are set to tilt in favour of women in the coming years,” he said. The growth rate among non-working women is 18%, while working women users grew only by 8%. The large growth rate among urban women has been attributed to college and school-going girls.

Priyanka S, a law student, said, “I am logged on to the internet all day as my smartphone is always with me. Not an hour passes without me checking my WhatsApp or Facebook. I own a laptop but I started using the internet more actively after buying my smartphone.”

There were more than one crore internet users among school and college girls in 2014, across 35 cities. Around 73 lakh female college students and 29 lakh schoolgirls used the internet in 2014.

Chakravarti said, “When internet usage started in India, it was mainly for checking mails and replying. Today a woman user is enthusiastic about the world of opportunities online. Phones have become the primary medium for internet usage, especially among young women.”

Housewife Tanisha Mukherjee said, “My smartphone has become an indispensable part of my life. I chat with my son abroad and watch cooking videos on my phone. I had not logged on before buying the phone as I did not know how to use a laptop.”

The study shows Mumbai and Delhi retaining top positions with 1.6 crore and 1.2 crore users in 2014. Chennai has recorded 55 lakh users in 2014. Pune, with its large student population, managed to beat Chennai with a growth rate of 34%.

Bangalore and Hyderabad recorded growth rates of 36% and 34%. Worldwide, India ranks third in internet usage after China and the United States.

source: times of india