Canadian families increasingly ‘living on the Internet’

New study shows high use of 'familycasting' to keep in touch with loved ones, increased music and video downloads, and little regard for copyright

Canadians have doubled their visits and use of social media sites in the past six months, according to a just-released report by Toronto-based Solutions Research Group, and women are more active in social media than men. In May of this year, 46% of respondents said they visited at least one social media site — 50% of online women vs. 42% of online men — compared to 24% in September 2006.

Some of the trends pinpointed in the Q2 update of SRG’s ongoing ‘Fast Forward’ research on broadband, wireless, on-demand TV and mobile entertainment include increased engagement with online media, growth in the creation and viewing of online video, and use of the Internet by families for entertainment and sharing files with family and friends.

Over three million Canadians have uploaded video (16% of the Internet population) to private or public web pages, and 24% of them have their own page or blog.

‘Familycasting’ is also growing, with 62% using instant messaging to keep in touch with family and friends, and 70% saying that the photos, stories and videos they post online are meant for those same people.

The rise in social media over the past six months has upped the engagement quotient of online, with 34% of Canadians agreeing with the statement ‘I live on the Internet,’ compared to 29% in September 2006. Among 30- to 49-year-olds, 38% agreed with the statement versus 28% six months ago.

The incidence of file swapping is also climbing, with Canadians sharing music, TV and movie files using peer-to-peer sources — including copyrighted movies and music:

• 41% downloaded a music file in the last month in May 2007, up from 38% last fall

• 16% downloaded full-length movies in the past month (up from 11%), while 15% say they downloaded at least one episode of a TV show (up from 10%)

• Only 41% believe downloading ‘copyrighted movies off the Internet’ without payment or authorization is a ‘very serious offence’ — compared to the 77% who believe ‘taking a DVD from a store without paying’ is a very serious offence

From Media in Canada