Canadians are experienced Internet users

323

Expect ChangeTHUNDER BAY – You are one of them. If you are getting your news, entertainment an information online, you are one of the 80 per cent of Canadians in 2010 who used the Internet.

Statistics Canda reports that “In 2010, 80% of individuals aged 16 years and older used the Internet for personal use. Significant differences in use rates exist based on age, income, location and other factors. Residents of British Columbia (86%) and Alberta (84%) reported the highest use rates. Rates were lowest in Newfoundland and Labrador (73%) and New Brunswick (70%)”.

There is a little bit of a ‘generation gap’ in Internet usage where individuals under the age of 45 had the highest rate of use, at 94%, while 80% of those aged 45 to 64 used the Internet. Among seniors, about one-half (51%) of those aged 65 to 74 used the Internet, compared with 27% of those aged 75 years and older.

Overall, Canadians are experienced Internet users, with almost one-half of users (47%) having been online for 10 years or more. About three-quarters (76%) used the Internet at least once a day in a typical month.

Ben Veenhof from Statistics Canada states, “In 2010, 79% of individuals aged 16 years and older living in Thunder Bay said they used the Internet for personal use, from any location. For all Canadians, the rate of personal use for
individuals was 80%”.

Growth online in Thunder Bay continues. However our population which has remained fairly stable over the past census period may point to differences in our city in Internet usage.

Lakehead University Economics Professor Livio Di Matteo states, “The periods of economic boom have been accompanied by increased in-migration as well as high birth rates that generated a very youthful population. Periods of slow economic growth and stagnation, on the other hand have resulted in out-migration and an aging population structure. In 1921, at the end of the wheat boom era, Thunder Bay had 52 percent of its population aged 24 years or less. This was partly a function of the boom but also a reflection of the higher fertility rates and larger families of the time period. By 1941, at the end of the Great Depression, only 33 percent of the city’s population was under age 24. Similarly if one goes to the post-war boom period, by 1971, an amazing 45 percent of Thunder Bay’s population was aged 24 years or less. By 2006, after twenty years of slow economic growth and out-migration, only about 30 percent of the population was below age 24”.

The City of Thunder Bay projected that our population, in 2010 would break down in the following age ranges;

Age Characteristics  – 2010 Estimates
Age   Thunder Bay (CMA)     Ontario                         
 Total Population                                      123,936  13,137,744
 0 to 4 years  5,794  697,330
 5 to 9 years  5,942  719,602
 10 to 14 years  6,673  771,019
 15 to 19 years  8,114  869,688
 20 to 24 years  8,836  919,268
 25 to 29 years  7,394  906,944
 30 to 34 years  6,577  876,116
 35 to 39 years  7,662  913,175
 40 to 44 years  8,250  970,261
 45 to 49 years  10,145  1,104,125
 50 to 54 years  10,385  990,278
 55 to 59 years  9,501  847,195
 60 to 64 years  7,896  731,649
 65 to 69 years  5,763  541,373
 70 + years  15,004  1,279,721

The largest single group are those 70 plus years of age. There are more people in our city older than 70 than there are under the age of ten.

Those aged 50-54 are the next largest group, followed by those 45-49 years of age.

What does that mean in Thunder Bay in terms of Internet use? Seniors accounted for about one-half (51%) of non-users. Nearly 4 in 10 non-users (39%) came from households in the lowest income quartile.

A majority of non-users (62%) said they did not use the Internet because they had no need or interest, did not find it useful, or did not have time. Over one-fifth (22%) mentioned a lack of skills or training, or that they found the Internet or computers too difficult to use. Limited access to a computer (12%), cost of service or equipment (9%) or age (9%) were other reasons cited for not going online.

That aging population in our community could be a factor in Internet use in the city, however the 55+ Centre in Thunder Bay has been working hard to offer Internet courses to older residents, and so too has the Thunder Bay Public Library.

James Murray
Chief Content Officer