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The Internet: Is It Changing the Way Canadians Spend Their Time?

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By B. Veenhof

Science, Innovation and Electronic Information Division

Note to readers

This study is based on the 2005 time use data collected in Cycle 19 of the General Social Survey (GSS).

Time use estimates in this study are based on information reported in the 24-hour time use diary portion of the survey. The diary provides a comprehensive accounting of participation in, and time spent on, all activities that the respondent participated in the day before the interview. In addition, information was collected on the location where respondents performed these activities (e.g., at home, at work), as well as the presence of other people (for non-personal care activities), (e.g., spouse, children, family, friends).

The questionnaire collected additional information on perception of time, time spent on child care and other unpaid work, paid work and education, cultural and sport activities, social network and trust, media use and transportation, as well as a number of socio-economic characteristics. Readers should note that in cases where respondents were performing a number of activities simultaneously, only the primary activity was recorded so that the total time allocated to all activities was the same for all respondents.

The target population included all people aged 15 and over, except full-time residents of institutions and residents of the Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Data were collected each month from January 2005 to December 2005 using a computer-assisted telephone interview system. Over this period, a total of 19,600 people were successfully interviewed, yielding a response rate of 59%.

This survey was previously conducted in 1998, 1992 and 1986.

Respondents were asked to report all episodes of activities that were at least five minutes in duration. 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).

Since the diary is limited to a 24-hour period, there will be a number of respondents who fall into the ‘non-user’ category who in fact would be considered users of the Internet on a regular or semi-regular basis if the survey window were to be extended beyond the 24-hour time frame. For this reason, results from the survey cannot be used to infer Internet penetration or use rates for the population at large. Readers interested in the characteristics of the entire Internet-using population in Canada should refer to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Internet Use Survey. Results for 2005 are scheduled to be released in August 2006 through The Daily (