Internet access and use: Access to and use of the internet adds to the education of our citizens. The internet is used for banking, education, recreation, health information and to purchase goods and services. Access from all sources went up to 76.8% for Niagara by 2009, slightly belowOntario access of 81% andCanada’s reported access of 80.1%. 21.7 million Canadians used the internet for personal reasons in 2009, up from 73% in 2007.Niagara’s access from home went up from 56.5% of the population in 2001 to 68.5% in 2005, to 75.4% in 2007. Access at work went up from 19.8 % in 2001, to 25.9% in 2005, to 28.7% in 2007.
In 2009, among Canadians living in communities with a population of 10,000 or more, 83% used the Internet, compared to 73% in communities with fewer people. This digital divide was also true in 2007. Other digital divides show income, education and age internet use narrowed 2007 to 2009.
The Niagara Community Observatory at Brock University released a policy brief in March, 2011, The Use of Social Media in the 2010 Niagara Municipal Election. The brief concludes that social media did not have a significant impact on 2010 election results; but that future opportunities exist for candidates to engage voters in social media conversations, as usage of these internet tools expands among the general population.
Canadians’ use of the Internet: Canadians spend twice as much time online as the global average. Canadians continue to take top spot in online engagement, spending more time than other internet users around the world (study by comScore). While internet presence grew only 2% overall, among the 55 plus age group Internet use jumped 12%. The findings of comScore’s 2010 Canada Digital Year in Review, reported that in the 4th quarter of 2010, Canadians spent almost 44 hours on line per month, up from just over 42 hours a month for the same time period in 2009 and almost double the global average of 23.1 hours per month. By the end of 2010, Canada’s online population had grown close to 25 million users – up from 24.6 in 2009. Stable use among all ages built a jump in the 55 plus group, but 35-54 year olds still accounted for the overall largest numbers of online users.