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The Internet is Shaping the Way in Which Canadian Families Live and Work Together

RBC Study Examines the Internet’s Impact on Canadian Families and Small Business Owners

An RBC Financial Group/Ipsos Reid study released today suggests that Canadian families
are making major lifestyle changes in response to the wave of new communications
technologies entering their homes.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos-Reid for RBC, was designed
to achieve an understanding of how families and small business owners
are balancing the new demands and opportunities of home and work life
in the context of technological change.

“The personal computer has become the nerve centre
of the new online home,” said Martin Stevens, director, eCommerce at RBC
Financial Group. “The PC and the Internet are redefining how Canadians
approach many aspects of their lives including shopping, banking, commuting,
family activities, home design and communications.”

In fact, Canadian online families have become so enamored
with the versatility of their PCs that the majority (51 per cent) would
choose it over a telephone or television if stuck on a deserted island.
And it’s not just the adults that find it handy. With the average family
spending more than 32 hours online per week, more than 40 per cent of
parents said they have had to negotiate with their kids to get on the

Canadian families have also discovered that surfing
the Internet is a good way to spend time together, with 39 per cent of
parents saying they sometimes go online with their kids, and 12 per cent
saying they always go online with their kids. That’s probably a good thing
given that 56 per cent of parents admit that they have learned at least
some of what they know about the Internet from their children.

Survey Highlights

  • Almost half of Canadian Internet-using families
    have more than one computer.
  • The average family spends more than 1,600 hours
    online per year (more than 32 hours per week).
  • 59 per cent of adults with a home Internet connection
    have purchased an item directly online.
  • 57 per cent of parents have guidelines about how
    and when the computer is to be used; 48 per cent say they place curfews
    on their kids’ Internet usage.
  • 20 per cent of all families with home Internet
    access have computers that have been networked to others within the
  • 48% of parents admit their kids have at least some
    influence on the purchase of new technology for the household.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what would
you take with you? The survey of 750 online parents with children under
18 living at home shows that Canadian families even seem to prefer surfing
the Internet to channel surfing. Half of respondents (51per cent) said
that if stuck on a deserted island for a month they would prefer to have
a computer with Internet access rather than a television – with only 21
per cent choosing a telephone and 12 per cent choosing a television.

The New Online Family

Parents are finding that as there are more and more
things for their kids to do on the computer and online, they are having
to create new rules and restrictions for how and when their kids use the
computer. Over half of parents (57 per cent) have guidelines about when
and how the computer is to be used and 48 per cent say they place time
limits or curfews on their kids’ Internet usage. 41 per cent say that
they have had to negotiate computer or Internet time in the household.

When it comes to learning about technology, some parents
(48 per cent) find that they are ahead of their kids while others (56
per cent) admit that they have learned at least some of what they know
about the Internet from their children.

The New Online Home

Canadian families are finding that new technology
has affected not only their family relationships, but how their homes
are set up to accommodate new technologies. Just over one-in-three parents
(37 per cent) say that they have redesigned, reconfigured or renovated
a portion of their living space to accommodate their computer(s).

Home area networks (HANs) have also become much more
prevalent with 43 per cent of families with two more computers in the
home having turned to networking the PCs together, in order to share peripherals
such as a colour printer, a scanner or high-speed Internet connection.

Balancing Work and Family in the Online Household

The growth of the Internet and the emergence of new
technologies has made the balance between work and family life much easier
for many Canadian families. 72 per cent of the parents surveyed agreed
that telecommuting allows them to spend more time with their family.

Many household chores that used to require leaving
the house can now be done online. Over half of parents with a home Internet
connection have purchased an item directly online (59 per cent) and 57
per cent have conducted online banking transactions. Over half of parents
(58 per cent) also agree that banking or shopping online has allowed them
to spend more time at home with their kids.

For more detailed survey results, please visit: www.rbc.com/newsroom