Stats Can Releases Internet Use Study

A major study released from Ottawa this morning surveys how Canadians’ use of the Internet is affecting the rest of their lives. It’s by Ben Veenhof who is with the Science, Innovation and Electronic Information Division at Statistics Canada.

One paper says that it has dispelled an urban myth which implied that internet users are normal people.

Among the findings:

Although the Internet potentially displaces time spent on traditional sources of information and entertainment, Internet users were avid consumers of other media.

In fact, heavy Internet users spent essentially the same time watching television as non-users and both heavy and moderate use of the Internet were associated with increased time spent reading books.

Heavy Internet users spent substantially less time in social contact with others.

Internet users expressed slightly greater enjoyment for attending social events and participating in clubs or social organizations than non-users.

Not only did Internet users spend less time in face-to- face contact with others, but their lifestyles were also very different.

Internet users spent considerably less time on paid work and domestic activities, and also expressed a lower level of enjoyment for domestic work.

Internet users devoted less time to sleeping, relaxing, resting and thinking compared with nonusers.

A greater proportion of heavy Internet users indicated that they were willing to cut back on sleep when they felt they needed more time, but by and large, it was the moderate users and non-users who in fact tended to have less free time at their disposal.

Heavy users were also more likely than non-users to want to spend more time on their studies, but this was linked with the fact that a greater proportion of these users were students.

Although Internet users spent substantial time alone, particularly the heavy users, they did not differ significantly from non-users in their desire to spend more time with family and friends.

In fact, this was the most popular choice for all three groups. More than one-quarter of individuals in each group singled out time with family and friends as their number one priority for spending additional time.

Similarly, even though heavy users spent less time participating in sports, they were no more likely to want to spend more time on sports than were non-users, given the choice.


  1. Important to note:

    “For the purpose of this study, ‘internet use’ refers to personal use of the Internet (e.g., email, web browsing, chatting, other Internet communication) and does not include use of the internet for other purposes (e.g., work, school).”

    And note the assumption that “work” and “personal” lives are separate.

  2. I haven’t read the study, only the reports to date; however, perhaps it is a chicken-and-egg situation. That is, perhaps it is the insomniacs or those whose family are busy/unavailable who tend to use the ‘Net more in their personal lives. I have seen instances of both.

    And the whole thing about computer people being anti-social…I really don’t buy it. Even kids in games are often playing against other live people. It is just another way of socializing. My personal socializing on-line has, over time, translated into giving me more confidence in what I have to say in face to face situations and helped me develop into a more outgoing person. Really.