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  • Articles and reports: 56F0004M2008016
    Description:

    The Internet's rapid and profound entry into our lives quite understandably makes people wonder how, both individually and collectively, we have been affected by it. When major shifts in technology use occur, utopian and dystopian views of their impact on society often abound, reflecting their disruptiveness and people's concerns. Given its complex uses, the Internet, both as a technology and as an environment, has had both beneficial and deleterious effects. Above all, though, it has had transformative effects.

    Are Canadians becoming more isolated, more reclusive and less integrated in their communities as they use the Internet? Or, are they becoming more participatory and more integrated in their communities? In addition, do these communities still resemble traditional communities, or are they becoming more like social networks than cohesive groups?

    To address these questions, this article organizes, analyzes and presents existing Canadian evidence. It uses survey results and research amassed by Statistics Canada and the Connected Lives project in Toronto to explore the role of the Internet in social engagement and the opportunities it represents for Canadians to be active citizens. It finds that Internet users are at least as socially engaged as non-users. They have large networks and frequent interactions with friends and family, although they tend to spend somewhat less in-person time and, of course, more time online. An appreciable number of Internet users are civically and politically engaged, using the Internet to find out about opportunities and make contact with others.

    Release date: 2008-12-04

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