Canadians Juggle Their Online Lives: eMarketer

Karin von Abrams, Senior Analyst

Up in the air?

MARCH 25, 2009 – Canada has some of the world�s most committed Internet users. In 2009, more than 69% of the population is online-compared with less than 65% in the US.

Moreover, four-fifths of Internet users in Canada spend at least an hour a day online for personal reasons, according to a 2009 survey by MSN Canada and Harris/Decima. Of those users, 45% spend 3 hours or more online each day.

But you can have too much of a good thing. Canada�s enthusiasm for online social activity is beginning to cause a few headaches.

A large part of the personal time Internet users in Canada spend online is taken up with e-mail and instant messaging (IM). Two-thirds of the Web users polled said they checked their e-mail often during an average day, and 95% checked at least once a day. In addition, over one-third of respondents used IM several times a day.

That doesn�t sound excessive. The problem is that nine in 10 Web users have more than one online account or profile to manage, according to the survey-and one in five has 10 or more accounts. The average among Canada�s Internet users is seven online accounts. No wonder that 53% of those polled said it was time-consuming to log in to all their accounts, manage message traffic and keep profiles up to date.

Social networking, in particular, makes big demands on Canada�s Web users. (A full 30% of survey respondents said they checked their social network profiles frequently each day.) And those with multiple accounts can�t devote equal attention to all of them. Almost one-half (45%) of Web users said they could not manage their accounts effectively, and more than one-half of those with four or more online accounts said they spent most of their time managing just one.

The issue is even more acute for Web users in Canada who use the Internet chiefly as a social tool, noted Andrew Assad of Microsoft Canada. More than one-quarter (27%) of Web users with this strong social motivation defined themselves as chameleons when engaged in social networking; they tended to create different profiles for different audiences, and changed their style and approach depending on the context of interaction.

“That�s a lot of personalities to manage,” said Mr Assad. “There�s a risk to not managing and losing control.”

Fewer than one in five (18%) of those polled said they used a Web browser or other application to aggregate their online accounts and profiles.

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