Report reveals ‘digital divide’ in Canadian internet usage

Toronto, June 13 : While a large part of Canadian population is using the internet, factors such as age, income, education and place of residence have contributed to a “digital divide” in the country, says a new Statistics Canada report.

The Canadian Internet Use Survey revealed that a total of 73 percent, or 19.2 million Canadians, of more than 16 year of age used the Internet for various reasons in 2007, indicating an increase of 5 percent from 2005, when the last survey was conducted.

The survey pointed out that 94 percent of users surfed the Net from home, 41 per cent said they used it at work; 20 per cent surfed from school; and 15 per cent surfed in libraries.

The report indicated that the breakdown of Internet users reveals a gap in the rate of use. For example, only 65 per cent of users living in small towns or rural areas surfed the Net, while 76 per cent of users resided in urban areas.

In the survey, it was mentioned that 84 per cent of Canadians with at least some post-secondary education surfed the Net, as against 58 per cent of those who had less education.

On the basis of income, 91 per cent of households that generate more than 95,000 dollars per year surfed the Net, which was almost twice the 47 per cent of users in households that generate less than 24,000 dollars.

On the whole, more Canadians are turning to high-speed connections: 88 per cent of home users are now using them, compared to 80 per cent two years ago.

More than 9 in 10 urban home users surfed the Net with a high-speed connection in 2007 in comparison to 7 in 10 homes in rural areas. Also, more than half of rural users using a slower service said that high-speed telephone or cable service was unavailable in their area.

This is the first survey to focus on Canadians aged 16 and 17, which accounted for almost one per cent of the five-per cent increase of overall Internet use in Canada. Thus, it’s not surprising that younger Canadians continue to rule in the online world: 96 per cent of people aged 16 to 24 went online, a number three times the 29 per cent of seniors aged 65 and older.

The survey said that “relatively more young Canadians” also reported posting images, writing blogs, participating in discussion groups and using instant messaging than their older counterparts.

However, one-fifth of all home Internet users said they blogged and posted images and 50 per cent of home users chatted using an instant messenger.

“E-mail and general browsing continued to be the most popular online activities from home. The Web remained popular for finding government or health information and making travel arrangements. And many Canadians also used it for banking, paying bills and ordering goods or services,” Globeandmail. com quoted the report, as saying.

Rates increased in every province from 2005 to 2007, and in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, the rate was higher than the national average. (ANI)