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Young Canadians Less Active Online Than Adults

  |  December 7, 2004   |  Comments

Survey finds Canadian teenager Internet use largely confined to social activities.

Canadian teens spend almost one-third (27.8 percent) less time online than their adult counterparts, with their Internet behavior largely confined to social activities, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos-Reid Corporation.

"This survey attempted to address two assumptions about the online behavior of Canadian teens," said Steve Mossop, senior vice president of Ipsos-Reid. "The first is that youth level of comfort with using technology is much higher than adults. The second is that teen Internet activity exceeds that of adults. Our findings challenge both of those assumptions."

The online survey polled 1,226 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 in Canada, asking them to respond to a number of questions regarding their online behavior. The survey found that the average teen spends approximately 13 hours online per week, compared to the 18 hours the average adult spends online.

The report also found that Canadian teens use the Internet primarily for its social capabilities. Based on a list of 18 online activities, sending and receiving email (73 percent do so a few times per week) and using instant messaging (70 percent) led all other categories by a large margin among respondents. Approximately 28 percent play games online versus friends, while 23 percent play games online against strangers.

Online Behavior of Canadian
Teens by Percentage
Sending and receiving email 73%
Instant messaging 70%
Research for school projects 45%
Downloading music 29%
Online games against friends 28%
Online games against strangers 23%
Visiting news and information sites 23%
Looking for movie reviews/show times 15%
Uploading photos 15%
Online radio 12%
Posting to online forums 11%
Visiting Web logs 10%
Comparison shopping 9%
Clicking on online ads 6%
Online banking 2%
E-commerce 1%
Source: Ipsos-Reid Corp.

Apart from those social online activities, Canadian teens appear to engage in other online activities far less than adults. Only 17 percent of teenagers reported having ever purchased something online, versus 50 percent of the adult online population. Other activities that more than half of adults engage in online also attract less teen interest.

Few teens (9 percent) comparison-shop online; click online advertising (6 percent); or bank online (2 percent). Some of this lack of interest may simply be due to a lack of credit cards or bank accounts.

The social nature of most teenage use of the Internet raises some concerns about safety. About 14 percent of teens reported that they had been asked at least once to meet in person with someone they originally met online. That number increases to 20 percent among respondents between ages 15 and 17, according to the survey.

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