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September 29 , 2009

75% of Canadian kids are internet savvy
Ipsos Reid says kids online by age seven

According to a comprehensive new Ipsos Reid survey, 75 per cent of Canadian children in young families who use the Internet are proficient on it by the ripe old age of seven. Additionally, the majority of Canadian parents (69 per cent) think it's important for children to be technology-savvy from an early age.

The national Canadians and Technology survey, commissioned by TELUS, polled 4,466 respondents and found that more than half of parents with teens think the Internet encourages independent learning. In fact, 44 per cent of Dads believe limiting their children's use of technology will hold them back. According to the survey, 74 per cent of children are allowed to spend between one and five hours per week on the Internet; 59 per cent of teens agree that they cannot live without access to the Internet.

But the survey also illustrates that Canadians believe the Internet, mobile phones and television have a broader purpose: as an integral link connecting modern families, and bringing them closer together.

"Canadian families have moved from being groups to being social networks," said Dr. Barry Wellman, the S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. "Each family member goes about their separate agendas, but links up at night and by new media throughout the day. Their lives have expanded beyond their homes and neighbourhoods, and at the same time, we're communicating more than ever."

The majority of Canadians believe a core value of technology is its ability to strengthen relationships: 83 per cent of respondents who strongly agree that technology helps keep their family organized, also say that the Internet has improved their connection with family and friends. Additionally, 57 per cent of Canadians agree that pre-recorded TV helps them stay close to family because it gives them the freedom to watch their favourite shows when they have time together.

When it comes to staying connected with one's immediate family, most Canadians say they use the phone (60 per cent) to do so, which is considerably higher than face-to-face communications (18 per cent). Eight in ten (82 per cent) parents say that one of the reasons their child has a mobile phone is so that they can stay in contact with their child when they're not around.

"Technology is having a dramatic impact on our daily lives," said Joe Natale, president, TELUS Consumer Solutions. "From the survey results, it's clear that networked families are using technology to improve their quality of life, staying better connected to each other and the world around them. Technology provides Canadian families with a sense of security, as well as easy access to a wealth of entertainment and information options delivered on the move with an immediacy unavailable to previous generations."

The Ipsos Reid survey also revealed that Canadians are using communications technology in different ways across the country. For example:

  • Atlantic Canadians are especially savvy online and spend more time on instant messenger and social networking sites than any other Canadian region (10.5 hours per week).
  • British Columbia residents are ranked the highest in number of hours they spend conducting research online (6.4 hours per week).
  • Ontario students spend more time per week (3.2 hours per week) doing homework online than any other province.
  • Quebec residents are most likely to use TV to relax (73%).
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