Though men are stereotyped as gadget hounds, information technology actually brings more happiness to women worldwide.
Even when controlling for income (which is correlated with happiness), the study found that access to IT made people around the world happier. The authors suggest that computers, cell phones, and the like do tremendous things for one's "sense of freedom" and control over life, which in turn promotes feelings of life satisfaction.
This fits with the finding that IT most helps those who have the least of it. "Those on lower incomes or with fewer educational qualifications appear to benefit more from access to IT than those on higher incomes or with higher educational backgrounds." It can "empower the disempowered."
The effect can be seen most strongly with women, who benefit more than men from IT.
"One possible reason is the role played by IT in modern day communications," says the study. "Therefore, we wonder whether the finding reflects the social networking role of women around the world. This result is particularly true for women in developing nations. Why this is so is not clear. But one reason might be that in many parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East women have socially controlled roles which may lead to a lower sense of freedom and autonomy and hence well-being."
According to BCS, this shows the importance of universal broadband rollouts that can help overcome the digital divide. The world doesn't need an iPad to be happy—but a cell phone and basic broadband really might make a difference.
Source: ars technica