The battle of the sexes; what new data reveal

Posted by Jacqueline Beauchere
Chief Online Safety Officer, Microsoft

The one thing on which men and women always seem to agree is that they can rarely agree on anything. Asking directions may be the perfect example. Yet in today’s data-driven world, there is perhaps one social attitude that men and women have in common: Mobile phone habits can be very annoying, and people should exercise better etiquette.

Results released today from Microsoft’s Safer Online poll identified five mobile pet peeves that both men and women find most annoying:

1. Constant phone-checking (44 percent)

2. Loud talkers (41 percent)

3. Using or not silencing phones when socially appropriate (40 percent)

4. Using one’s phone during face-to-face conversation (39 percent), and

5. Delaying traffic due to mobile-phone use (35 percent)

While mobile-phone pet peeves appear to be shared universally, more important is how to help people protect their devices and information from scammers, so-called “rogue” software and the oversharing of digital details. Our poll found some common ground, with 39 percent of respondents believing men and women are equal in protecting their personal data on their smart phones. But interestingly, research from Microsoft’s Computing Safety Index (MCSI) released earlier this year shows that adult men and women practice mobile safety quite differently.

For instance, according to the Index:

Men do a slightly better job using technical features:

  • 35 percent use a “PIN” (personal identification number) or password to lock their mobile device vs. 33 percent of women
  • 35 percent use secured wireless networks compared to 32 percent of women
  • 32 percent keep their mobile device up to date vs. 24 percent of women

Women, on the other hand, tend to be savvier when protecting their online reputations:

  • Women often take additional steps, like adjusting their privacy settings, to limit both their personal information online (40 percent vs. 37 percent), and public information, like phone numbers or email addresses, on social networking sites (40 percent vs. 32 percent)
  • Women are also more careful about what they send in text messages (34 percent vs. 31 percent)

And, the Index showed that men more frequently receive mobile scams, such as rogue anti-virus alerts or “phishing” emails:

  • Men generally receive more emails from strangers, requesting personal information (70 percent vs. 65 percent). Men also experience a greater number of antivirus pop-ups (66 percent vs. 58 percent)
  • And, men more often find themselves being impersonated online (31 percent vs. 26 percent)

While we all should strive to be more considerate when using our mobile phones, protecting one’s self on-the-go is even more important. Microsoft offers the following tips to help you stay safe when using your mobile device and to assist you in minding your mobile manners:

· Silence your mobile phone. Know when to put the phone away and “be present.”

· Help protect your privacy online. Don’t overshare. Think before posting where you are and save vacation highlights and photos for your return.

· Use location-based services safely. Think carefully about turning on geo-tagging. Share your location only with people whom you trust. Pay attention to where and when you check in, and get permission before you check in others.

· Conduct financial transactions on a secure network. Don’t use “borrowed” or public Wi-Fi hotspots. Save those sensitive transactions for the safer home computer.

· Lock your mobile phone. Keep your information secret with a unique, four-digit PIN and don’t share it with others.

You can take the Microsoft Safer Online Facebook poll and find more information about general mobile phone safety at: To stay current on today’s online safety issues, “Like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.