Comprehensive Canadian research project offers insight into changing
Internet habits, media consumption, family interactions and more
TORONTO, Sept. 24 /CNW/ - Canadian Internet users are multi-tasking more
and spending more time online while not dramatically changing their other
media habits according to a new report released today by The Canadian Internet
Project (CIP). The comprehensive survey of more than 3,100 Canadians (12 years
and older), examined their use of the Internet, conventional media and
emerging technologies. The second installment in this ongoing study offers
insight into both new and conventional media use in Canada, as well as the
socio-economic and cultural impact the Internet is having on Canadians.
CIP examines Canadians Internet usage from three different perspectives:
academic, business and government. As a partner in the World Internet Project
(WIP), the study also compares Canadian results to those of 13 other
participating WIP countries, which also conducted research in 2007.
"Canada belongs to a world where the Internet, technology and media are
central to our everyday lives," says Fred Fletcher, Co-Investigator of CIP and
University Professor Emeritus, Communication Studies and Political Science,
York University. "The 2007 survey provides an unmatched analysis of Canadian
online habits and how the Internet and emerging technologies are transforming
lives. It is our hope that Canadian decision-makers - public and private -
will use the results of this study to make more informed decisions."
CIP conducted its first national survey in 2004 and published a baseline
report, Canada Online! A Comparative analysis of Internet Users and Non-users
in Canada and the World: Behaviour, Attitudes and Trends in 2005. The current
report is even more comprehensive. Since 2004, the spread of high-speed
broadband and mobile applications and services, along with innovative forms of
interactive online activities and social networking, has underlined the need
for longitudinal studies that assess trends and developing patterns of
behaviour and attitudes over time.
There are also some important enhancements to the latest study. The 2007
questionnaire was compiled through collaboration with CIP's 10 academic,
government and industry partners. The resulting answers were then rolled into
new topics and technologies within the survey. In addition, youths were
included among those surveyed for the first time, with 400 respondents between
the ages of 12 and 17.
"Youth and young adults are typically among the earliest adopters of new
technologies, so including them in our research provides a perspective on the
many changes that are taking place in society from using the Internet," said
Charles Zamaria, Principal Investigator and Project Director of CIP and a
professor at Ryerson University. "As this age group grows older, so too, we
predict, will the overall penetration levels, and more frequent engagement in
sophisticated online activities.
"The CIP study is the most comprehensive public-access study of its kind
in Canada. The 2007 data include nearly 900 variables and indices on a wide
range of subjects across all media and technologies, focusing most on changes
caused by online engagement. This allows CIP to offer a sound foundation for a
broad understanding of the continuing impact that traditional and new media
have on our day-to-day lives."
Internet Penetration and the Digital Divide
In comparison to the rest of the world, Canadians continue to be among
the heaviest Internet users. Internet penetration increased by 6 percent to
78 percent in 2007. The average number of hours spent online also increased
from 13 in 2004 to 17 hours per week in 2007. Canadian Internet users are
typically very experienced and have been online for an average of nine years.
Not surprisingly, age is strongly related to Internet adoption, with
younger individuals more likely to be online. Online activity is nearly
universal with Canada's youth population. At 96 percent, 12 to 17 year olds
are almost all on the Internet and all those surveyed under 17 had used the
Internet at one time or another. Surprisingly more than half of Canadians over
60 use the Internet regularly.
"Canada ranks number one for Internet engagement by its eldest citizens,
when compared to other countries around the world participating in the WIP
study," said Professor Zamaria. "What is remarkable is that a considerable
number of Canadians over 60 years are not just using e-mail or popular search
engines, but they are also engaging in new and emerging activities similar to
what their grandchildren are doing, such as participating in social networks,
posting photographs online and so on."
Inequalities and so-called digital divides in Internet access and usage
within specific demographic sectors are lessening considerably. However, the
biggest difference found in the results was a 15 percent gap between
English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians - 82 percent vs. 67 percent.
Part of the language divide in Internet penetration is a result of language,
as English predominates on the Internet. Some of this can be attributed to the
lack of technical infrastructure to provide access to the many rural areas
"But what we found most fascinating was the larger number of casual
Internet engagers in Quebec, that is people who had been online occasionally
in the year prior to the survey but did not consider themselves to be current
users," explains Professor Zamaria.
High speed broadband has transformed the online world and continues to
revolutionize Internet use. Broadband access is found in 80 percent of
Internet user households (or 54 percent of all Canadian homes) - an increase
of 13 percent since 2004. In addition, CIP found online activities that are
made easier to access using broadband have shown dramatic growth since 2004,
including downloading or listening to music, watching televisions, videos or
movies and playing games.
"It is the 'always-on' nature of broadband access, that is the
distinguishing factor making broadband so transformational for Internet use,"
said Dr. Fletcher.
Traditional Media versus Online Media
With the increase of time spent online, the use of traditional media has
declined slightly. However, the 2007 study shows online activities appear to
supplement rather than displace traditional media use.
"Conventional wisdom would suggest that Internet use has increased at the
expense of traditional media," says Professor Zamaria. "But the amount of time
spent attending to conventional media by Internet users and non-users is
virtually identical. In general, we found that Internet users are not finding
time to be online by taking away from their traditional media diet. In many
ways, media activity just begets more media activity."
Canadians spent an average of more than 45 hours per week consuming
traditional media and engaging in live entertainment activities. There is no
difference between Internet users and non-users in total time spent using
these traditional media or attending entertainment events. Youth (12-17) use
traditional media 40 hours per week - about 15 percent less than adults age 18
years or older.
Mass media like television, radio, newspaper and books remain popular
sources of information consumption with all demographic audiences surveyed as
well as Internet users and non-users. The change is coming in the behaviour of
Multi-Tasking and Screen Sharing
"The Internet does not demand our attention in the same way television or
other media do," says Dr. Fletcher. "Canadians seem to use the Internet
casually or share time online with someone physically beside them. So it is
becoming more difficult to isolate and measure specific media use for
individuals as Canadians. More and more, Canadians are using many media
Three in four Canadians Internet users (76 percent) say they engage in
another activity while online. Multi-tasking is most common among youth (89
percent) and those aged 18-29 (91 percent). Talking on the telephone or cell
phone was selected by 44 percent as the most popular activity while using the
Internet followed by listening to music or the radio (35 percent) or watching
television (32 percent).
Social Networking and Family Connections
The emergence of social networks is transforming the online experience.
For many younger Internet users, going online is about exploring, socializing
and experiencing new forms of interaction. While more than half of Internet
users under 30 have visited a community or social networking site, as many as
one in five Canadians over 60 have also visited these. Social networking sites
have greater appeal for English-speaking Canadians (43 percent) than for
French-speaking Canadians (24 percent).
Forty percent of Canadian Internet users have visited a community or
social networking site and almost one in four do so at least weekly. One in
four young adults (28-29) visit social networking sites daily and are the most
active contributors with 29 percent uploading material on a weekly basis. The
most popular social networking sites visited by Canadians include Facebook and
Hi5. Nearly 40 percent of Internet users say they visit a community or social
networking site to interact and socialize with family and friends.
Canadians have adopted community and social networking activities as part
of their typical communication routines, shifting some interaction time from
face-to-face to virtual. On average, Internet users report that they spend
approximately 16.3 hours per week with family and 8.6 hours a week with
friends. Heavy Internet users report spending more time with family (18 hours)
and a little more time with friends (9.3 hours). Therefore increased Internet
use does not seem to mean users spend less time with family and friends.
Some Internet users believe the Internet has increased their contact with
family and friends but decreased their face-to-face time. One in three
Canadian Internet users feel being online has increased his or her contact
with others who have similar hobbies or recreational activities.
"We often think of the Internet as a conduit for information, similar to
many other mass media we use on a regular basis," said Professor Zamaria.
"However, what our study demonstrates is that the Internet is becoming a
destination or a place in itself, where many visit not only for information or
to be entertained, but just to be there, and to be connected and share with
others. Our finding that almost three quarters of all Internet users surf
online without a specific reason or destination, and more than half do so on a
regular basis, supports our contention that the Internet, for many, is as much
an experience, as it is a valuable source of information and entertainment."
For the complete CIP research report and statistics, please see
About The Canadian Internet Project (CIP)
The Canadian Internet Project is an ongoing longitudinal study of the
Internet, conventional media and emerging technologies in Canada. Results from
the 2007 survey complement its benchmark study conducted in 2004. Led by
Professor Zamaria of Ryerson University and Dr. Fred Fletcher, Professor
Emeritus from York University, the next survey is planned for 2010. CIP
examines use and non-use patterns and trends as well as Canadians' attitudes
and behaviour towards media and technology. Through CIP's affiliation with the
World Internet Project - a network of research centres in 28 countries
throughout the world - Canadian media activities are presented in global
perspective. Led by some of Canada's leading researchers in this field, the
public-access study provides a detailed analysis of the Internet, media and
technology in Canada that will be of interest to policy makers, businesses,
the media and the cultural industries. CIP member partners include: the
Canadian Media Research Consortium, Government of Canada (Canadian Heritage,
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat), Ontario Media Development Corporation,
Telefilm Canada, Bell University Laboratories, Interactive Advertising Bureau
of Canada, eBay Canada, CBC, and CRTC. For more information, please see
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