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Internet use and interaction with family, friends, and neighbours

The pervasiveness of computers and the Internet raises questions about the possible effects of increased 'screen-time' on personal interaction with friends, family and neighbours. Some survey data suggest a significant difference in the amount of time that Internet users spend in direct in-person contact with their family and friends. For instance, the 2005 Statistics Canada General Social Survey(GSS) on time use reveals that Internet users generally spend more time alone than non-users.  Moreover, the amount of time spent alone increases with Internet use.  For instance, moderate Internet users (5 minutes to one hour per day) spent almost half an hour (26.4 minutes) more time alone than non-users, whereas persons who spent more than one hour online per day were alone nearly two hours (119 minutes) more than non-users - once respondents of similar backgrounds in terms of their age, sex, number of children, education and other factors were compared in a multivariate model. [Full text]

Socio-demographic factors influencing use of the Internet

To this point, we have provided information about the Internet participation of Canadians as a whole. Yet, differences in access to and use of the Internet have been identified among Canadians depending on age, gender, income, education, and location. Moreover, studies of the digital divide have identified relationships between Internet access and many of these socio-demographic factors in many countries. [Full text]

Revisiting the Internet Debate

A consensus is emerging about the Internet's effects on social life – in Canada and other developed countries. It maintains that the Internet is aiding the transformation of relations – with family and relatives, with community members, in voluntary organizations, and at work (not studied here). Although there has been much talk about negative effects of the Internet, the evidence presented here does not support the notion that the Internet is increasing social isolation. Rather, research is showing that the Internet is fostering participation with community members and in social organizations. To a great extent, this is basically an enhancement of existing relationships – people now have other media to connect them. In addition to in-person encounters, scheduled meetings, landline and mobile phones, they can email, chat online, send instant messages, blog and comment, and stay mutually aware through social networking sites. [Full text]