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Study: Screen time among Canadian adults

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The Daily

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The study, "Screen time among Canadian adults: A profile," uses data released today from the 2007 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) to profile Canadian adults who were frequent television viewers and those who were frequent leisure-time computer users, two sedentary activities that are related to obesity. The information was provided by the respondents themselves.

Frequent television viewing was defined as 15 or more hours a week, and frequent leisure-time computer use as 11 or more hours a week.

In 2007, nearly 3 out of every 10 Canadian adults (29%) reported that, on average, they watched television for 15 or more hours a week, that is, more than two hours a day. About 19% reported 21 or more hours per week, or an average of at least 3 hours per day.

Frequent leisure-time computer use was less common. About 15% of adults averaged 11 or more hours per week. Only 6% reported 21 or more hours per week, and close to one-third (31%) reported no leisure-time computer use.

Overall, 1 adult in 20, or about 5%, was both a frequent television viewer and a frequent leisure-time computer user. The correlation between time spent watching television and using the computer was not significant.

The likelihood of being a frequent television viewer rose steadily with age, from 20% of adults aged 20 to 24, to 52% at 75 or older.

About 47% of people with less than secondary graduation were frequent TV viewers, twice the proportion of 24% among postsecondary graduates.

As well, 39% of people in households with the lowest incomes were frequent TV viewers. This was higher than the rate of 22% among those in the highest-income households.

Only about one-fifth (21%) of full-time workers were frequent TV viewers, compared with 37% of those who were not employed.

CCHS data suggest that among younger age groups, computer use may be replacing television as the screen time activity of choice.

About 45% of all the screen hours reported by young adults aged 20 to 24 were spent on a computer rather than watching television. Even middle-aged adults, those aged 45 to 54, spent one-quarter of their screen time using a computer.

About 17% of postsecondary graduates were frequent leisure-time computer users, more than twice the proportion of 7% among adults who had less than high school education.

Recent immigrants were twice as likely as Canadian-born adults to be frequent leisure-time computer users.

Available on CANSIM: tables 105-0501 and 105-0502.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3226.

The article, "Screen time among Canadian adults: A profile," which is part of today's Health Reports online release, is now available (82-003-XWE) from the Publications module of our website. This issue of Health Reports contains another study on physical inactivity, "Sedentary behaviour and obesity."

The complete version of the latest issue of Health Reports, Vol. 19, no. 2 (82-003-XWE, free) is now available from the Publications module of our website. A printed version (82-003-XPE, $24/$68) is also available.

For more information on this article, contact Margot Shields (613-951-4177;, Health Information and Research Division, Statistics Canada or Mark Tremblay (613-298-3428;, Physical Health Measures Division, Statistics Canada, and the Healthy Active Living Research Group, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute.

For more information about the 2007 Canadian Community Health Survey, or about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (613-951-1746;

The latest electronic issue of Health Indicators, 2008, no. 1 (82-221-XIE, free) provides a set of over 20 health indicators for Canada, the provinces and territories, and the health regions, based on the 2007 Canadian Community Health Survey.