In cultures where there is a marked difference in basic rights between males and females, research has shown a difference in the way that males and females utilize their social networking accounts, as well as the type of accounts they have. In Kuwait, an Arab nation, females are afforded far fewer personal and social rights than are males, and are expected to act in a way which does not cause shame to the family (Al-Kandari, Al-Hunaiyyan, & Al-Hajri, 2016). These expectations have an effect on not only the type of social networking females favor, but on the types of accounts they use and the information they share on those accounts.
Previous research has indicated that gender influences the use of all forms of social media, including Instagram. This is as true in Kuwait, an Arab nation, as it is in the rest of the world. This study seeks to confirm three hypotheses: 1. Kuwaiti males are more likely to post their personal pictures on Instagram than are Kuwaiti females, 2. Kuwaiti females are more likely to have private, rather than public, Instagram accounts than are Kuwaiti males, and 3. Kuwaiti males are more likely to reveal their personal information on their profile accounts than are Kuwaiti females (Al-Kandari et al., 2016).

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This study was conducted by Ali J. Al-Kandari of the Gulf University for Science and Technology/Mass Communication in West Meshrif, Kuwait, Ahmed A. Al-Hunaiyyan, and Rana Al-Hajri, both of the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET)/ Computing Department in Shuwaikh, Kuwait (2016). The study was quantitative-descriptive, and employed a short survey to gather the evidence which was then used to generate results.

The study population was drawn from higher-education students attending college in Kuwait. Approximately 539 university students of both sexes were asked to complete a short survey (approximately 15 minutes to complete) which asked questions regarding their preference in social networking sites, the types of accounts they most often used (public versus private), and the type of material they posted on these sites (Al-Kandari et al., 2016). Participants were drawn from students in the general education courses in order to ensure an accurate representation of students throughout Kuwait, with the largest possible variety of students being represented. The surveys were originally written in English and then translated into Arabic to control for language being a factor in results.

In an attempt to confirm the study’s three hypotheses, study authors compiled the results of the completed surveys and then utilized individualized t-tests to determine the differences in responses between male and female participants (Al-Kandari et al., 2016). Results showed that all three proposed hypotheses could be considered confirmed, as the findings were consistent with what the researchers had expected to find.

The first t-test indicated that males (M = 1.82) more than females (M = 1.49) posted personal pictures on Instagram, which confirmed the first hypothesis. The second hypothesis stated that females are more likely to have private Instagram accounts than are males, who are more likely to have public Instagram accounts. The t-test statistical procedure confirmed this hypothesis by showing that males had an average of 1.21 public accounts as compared to 1.10 public accounts for females. The final hypothesis proposed that males are more likely to reveal their personal information on their profile accounts than are females. The t-test confirmed this hypothesis by showing that males averaged 3.68 personally informative details on their accounts, while females averaged 2.92 personally informative details.

While this study was adequate to confirm the hypotheses proposed, it is limited in its transferability, as only a single cultural group was involved in the research. In addition, as only college students were used as participants, the results cannot definitively be said to apply to people from other age groups, even among Kuwaiti citizens. Therefore, the results can only be said to have been confirmed for the relatively small participant group of college-age Kuwaiti students. Also, while the hypotheses themselves were confirmed, no information concerning the reasons behind the data was obtained. For instance, participants were not asked about the religious or cultural pressure placed on females versus males in their households, or if their families could be considered traditional or more modern. Differences such as these could provide a great deal of information regarding the reasons for the gender differences in Instagram use, which ultimately would be more helpful than merely noting the presence of differences in use between the sexes.

This study could be interesting in future research if the same or similar survey was given to participants from different, varied ethnic or cultural groups of various ages. It would be especially interesting to see if the hypotheses were proven in cultures where women and girls are not held to a much higher moral standard than males. For example, in America, where males and females have approximately the same amount of cultural and moral freedom, the results of the study could be expected to produce very different results. It would also be interesting to compare Instagram use patterns used by teenagers or young adults as compared to older adults. While this study confirmed its hypotheses, the scope of the study was extremely limited, and much more could be learned if the study parameters were expanded to include other age groups, cultures, and countries.

  • Al-Kandari, A. J., Al-Hunaiyyan, A. A., & Al-Hajri, R. (Feb 2016). The influence of culture on Instagram use. Journal of Advances in Information Technology 7(1), 54-56.