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Internet Usage Role in the Social Life Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 26th, 2020

Abstract

This paper explores seven articles on how the use of the internet has evolved and changed the social lives of Canadians. It examines Shaw and Gant’s (2002), “Exploring Gap in Internet Use”. It also examines Ipsos Canadian Interactive Reid Report on the usage of social networking sites and access to news online. Smartphones are also examined and the paper further provides a report by Hupp (2008) on the growth of smartphone and its manufacturers. Focus is laid upon the use of the internet in Canadian businesses and current affairs (Hupp, 2008), the cultural background and various internet activities engaged in by both the young and old generation together with the consumption of culture by older Canadians on the internet.

How the Usage of the Internet is changing Social Life in the modern day

Internet use has evolved over time and is currently embedded in the lives of many Canadians. Canadians can easily access the internet from any location, with the number standing at 86 percent ranking Canada among global leaders in internet use (Shaw, 2005). For the past five years, 80 percent of Canadians are able to access the internet from home. Presently, mobile internet access stands at 37 percent, which is a 32 percent increase from the year 2001. Almost a saturated number below 55 years have access to the internet and 47 percent enjoy mobile access. Those aged 55 years and above have a 68 percent internet access and 16 percent lack mobile internet access (Tepperman, 1991). This paper examines how internet usage has evolved in Canada.

Earlier studies focused on internet access but recent studies have focused on understanding how the Internet is used in the fields of business, current affairs, and social networking (Hupp, 2008). The heaviest internet users are the teenagers, followed by the youths, and then the adults. Studies show that a majority of teenagers engage in online games and social networking sites where they connect to their friends and relatives.

A huge number also engage in surfing the web for leisure. The youths that form the second highest users of internet mostly engage in social networking. The youths are also likely to visit the web in search of online jobs. They are also likely to read online news and participate in online political activities (Tepperman, 1991).

The percentage of the old generation accessing and using the internet has also increased significantly (Shaw & Gant, 2002). An analysis of the survey carried out in 2010 revealed a 60 percent internet use by persons between 65 and 74 years of age. 29 percent of those aged 75 years and above had also accessed the internet. A decade earlier, the only 10percent of the old generation engaged in the usage of the internet. Although the number of old accessing the internet is on the rise, the generational gap still remains in some areas of internet usage. Cultural aspects like music are less likely to be appreciated by the old.

According to the survey carried out in 2010, in a period of one week, 90 percent of individuals between ages 65 and 75 do not listen to music downloaded from the internet (Shaw & Gant, 2002). This group prefers to use the native methods, for example, listening to music the traditional way that is through the use of compatible diskettes. Half of the music listeners that prefer the use of CD’s fall under the age of 45 years and above. At the same time, only 20 percent of those that are over 65 years of age do not prefer the same method.

Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS) data reveals that internet usage for personal reasons in 2007 was high among individuals aged 16 to 35; it stood at 93.1 percent and at 79.8 percent for individuals aged 35 to 50. It is also revealed in the 2007 survey than nearly 60.8 percent of the study population aged between 55 and 65 years use the internet to fulfill personal agendas. However only 28.8 percent of seniors aged 65 and above accessed the internet for the same reason (See Appendix Table 1 for more Information on Personal Internet Usage).

The number of internet users has been growing rapidly in the recent past (Shaw, 2005). This is mainly due to various activities that can be achieved by the usage of the Internet. First of all, social networking has changed ways of communication among Canadians. Majority of online Canadians use social network sites, with a large portion of both young and old engaging in social networking. The social sites also provide a means of disseminating information. 62 percent of Canadians have accessed online social networks, which is an 11 percent increase since 2010.

It has been noted that 30 percent visit the site at least once a day, an increase from the 19 percent recorded back in 2010. When it comes to gender comparison, women are significantly more likely to visit social sites than men, with their percentage standing at 37 percent as compared to that of men which stands at 24 percent (Tepperman, 1991).

Of the people interviewed, 41percent often engage in online than offline communication. Facebook, a leading social site, has experienced a decline in facebook profiles down from 90 percent in 2010 to 86 percent. Significantly, there has been an increase in Twitter and LinkedIn profiles standing at 19 percent and 14 percent in 2011 vs. 10 percent and 9 percent in 2010, respectively. Half of online Canadians with a social networking profile have been using social networks for a period of at least three years. Fifty-six percent are happy with the level of privacy offered by their social network sites (See Appendix Table 2 for more information on Social Networking Trends in Internet Usage).

Canada has also seen an effective usage of the internet by the increasing number of smartphones among Canadians. Smartphone has their app store or market place where most social apps can be downloaded. The capability of social apps is as a result of the application programming Interface (API) that allows social sites to integrate with other third-party drives. This has enabled smartphone owners to download various plug-ins and applications that can access major social sites.

Currently, the most downloaded apps, especially for RIM, Android and the Apple smartphones, are Facebook apps, Twitter apps, Google apps, and LinkedIn apps that continue to increase social interactivity. In September 2011, a survey done by comScore MobiLens showed that 8 million people in Canada owned smartphones (Hupp, 2008). This is a representation of 40 percent of the mobile market in Canada. RIM had 35.8 percent of the market share. Apple was second at 30.1 percent. Android, a product of Google took the second runners up position followed by Symbian while Microsoft closed the list with a 3.2% market share (See Appendix Table 3 for more information on smartphones Platform).

Most news publishing companies have resorted to providing news feeds online as a supplement to the hard copies in the form of newspapers. Most Canadians can now access news via the available websites, subscribing for newsletters via emails, bookmarking news sites, and integrating RSS feed to their sites. In a report by Ipsos Canadian interactive Reid Report, 2011, 92 percent have sorted news from a computer. 66 percent of those who seek news online have visited a newspaper website. 23 percent stream and download TV news online. 23% percent read printed magazine on a website (See Appendix Table 4 for more Information on Online news).

The third aspect is the use of emails. Emails have moved from being a traditional sending and receiving media to a highly integrated platform for providing other services. Most of the major players in emailing services have added more features to their mailing system. They offer a chat platform where people can engage in instant messaging. Some of the best known being the google talk, they can also stream video chats, provide weather information, for instance, Yahoo and display appropriate adverts by monitoring the browser history of the client. In a Canadian survey concerning digital marketing, 22 percent said that they responded to an email from organizations promoting products, services, or special offers (Bolliger, 2008).

Fourth is the use of Tablet Computers which has changed the social lifestyle of many Canadians. Tablet is one of the latest high-tech gadgets on the market and it is making a good penetration in Canada. They are convenient to carry and offer a relatively large screen compared to smartphones. “Studies show that 7 percent of online Canadians currently own a tablet computer, 24 percent are likely to purchase one in the next 12 months, and 11 percent in the next six months” (Griffis, 2006, p.2).

Different brands are in stiff competition, with the Apple iPad at 86 percent, followed by blackberry playbook at 61pecent, and the Samsung Galaxy at 27 percent. A greater percentage of women compared to men prefer the iPad (60 percent vs. 51 percent) while a greater percentage of men compared to women prefer the playbook (30% vs. 18%). Tablets change the social trends in terms of enabling the owners to easily access websites, read emails, visit social sites, view global trends, and even join online group Coupons (Griffis, 2006).

The internet has led to the facilitation of online research. Most research institutions have published online journals that can be easily accessed for research purposes. A research finding by Immigration status, Canada, 2007 showed that around 45 percent of Canadian Home Internet users engage in research on community events (Mathewson, 2000).

The above-outlined internet usage has completely changed the social lives of the majority of Canadians. A major victim being the social networking sites, which have led to the isolation of many Canadians as the number of users continues to grow. Evidence that support isolation of Canadians show that users of the internet spend more time alone. These people interact less with family, friends, relatives, and society. A major concern arises in time dedicated to internet usage, which substitute’s time spent to establish real-world contact and relationships (Shaw & Gant, 2002). Friedman (1994) A study of the Canadian general social survey, 2005 report shows that internet users have less time to have an in-person contact as compared to the non-users.

In conclusion, the usage of the internet has changed the social lifestyle of many people. The Internet has brought about different ways of communication through instant messaging, emails, and video chats. This has broken away from the tradition of using postal offices and fax. The Internet has also brought about new ways of accessing journals, magazines, research papers, and newspapers. This has driven us off from the traditional libraries and hard copied newspapers.

References

Friedman, A. (1994). Microlog: Canadian Research Index/Index de Recherche du Canada. CD-ROM Professional, 7(1), 173. Web.

Griffis, J. (2006). Internet genealogy magazine on stands soon. News Gazette, p. C.2. Web.

Hupp, S. (2008). Canadian Business & Current Affairs (CBCA) Complete. Choice, 45(8), 1318. Web.

Mathewson, G. (2000). Internet changing way local residents spend their time: Final Edition. Observer, p. A.3. Web.

Shaw, G. (2005). Canada among global leaders on Internet. CanWest News, p. 1. Web.

Shaw, L., & Gant, L. (2002). Users divided? Exploring the gender gap in Internet use. Cyberpsychology & behavior: the impact of the Internet, multimedia and virtual reality on behavior and society, 5(6), 517– 527. Web.

Tepperman, L. (1991). Canadian Social Trends. Canadian Journal of Sociology, 16(2), 221– 223. Web.

Appendix

Table 1: Percentage of Internet Usage for Personal reasons, Canada, 2007.

Age % of Internet Usage for Personal reason
16 – 35 93.1%
35-50 79.8%
55-65 60.8%
65+ 28.8%

Table2: Social Networking Trends in Internet Usage, Canada Ipsos Canadian Interactive Reid Report, 2011.

Activity % of People in Social Networking Trends
Browsed Online Social Network 62%
Visiting social site at least once a day 30%
Women visiting social sites 37%
Men visiting social sites 24%
Happy with the level of Internet security 64%
Communicating more with people online than offline 41%

Table 3: Top Smartphone Platforms, Total Canada Smartphone Subscribers Ages 13+, comScore MobiLens, 2011.

% Share of Smartphone subscribers
Total Smartphone Subscribers 100%
RIM 35.8%
Apple 30.1%
Google 25.0%
Symbian 4.2%
Microsoft 3.2%

Table 4: Online News, Canada Ipsos Canadian Interactive Reid Report, 2012.

% of users accessing news online
Sorted news from a computer 92%
Download TV news online 23%
Read Printed magazine on a website 23%
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