Rights & Money

Living Online

Once Canadians are on the grid, it seems, they have a hard time going offline


By Jennifer Hughes

Photo: iStock/metamorworks.


Staying connected once meant keeping in touch with friends and family. Today it seems to mean being unable to detach oneself from the online world.

According to the results of a survey conducted by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), more and more Canadians are finding it harder and harder to disconnect. One-fifth (20%) of those surveyed confessed that they hadn’t been offline for eight hours together. Only 15% said that they had gone off the grid for a week or longer in the last year—that is, 85% of us couldn’t go a week without the Internet.

The report, which surveyed over 2,000 Canadians about how often they access the Internet and what they use it for, found that 75% spend at least three to four hours surfing the web every day.

Overall, Canadians are spending more time online than in previous years. Surfing the web isn’t limited to younger generations, either. More baby boomers are using mobile devices to get online this year (57%) than in 2017 (44%) and 2015 (24%). While computers are the most common tools Canadians use to get online (51%), many also use mobile devices (34%) and some use tablets (14%).

Compared with the last five years, more people are going online to buy household goods (up 22%), food (up 17%), clothes (up 16%), and travel (up 12%). However, possibly the most surprising statistic relates to Canadians and retailers. According to the report, 75% are comfortable purchasing from Canadian government or retail sites, while only 55% are comfortable using US sites. In fact, nearly two-thirds (64%) prefer to purchase items online from Canadian retailers.

Some Canadians are still fearful of the Internet, though. While 80% are worried about malware and viruses, nearly a third (30%) believe that the microphones in their smartphones “definitely or probably” are listening to them without their consent.