New study indicates Canadian parents are not fully aware of how their children are using the Internet

June 21, 2001 (Ottawa) - Canadian youth are ahead of their parents - and on their own - in their explorations of the Internet, according to research findings released today by the Media Awareness Network.

Young Canadians in a Wired World, the most comprehensive and wide-ranging survey of its kind conducted in Canada, heard from 5,682 students between the ages of 9 and 17 in schools across Canada. This study to assess how young Canadians actually use the Internet was undertaken by the Media Awareness Network (MNet), with financial support from the Government of Canada. Data collection and analysis were conducted by Environics Research Group.

Not surprisingly, the majority of young people are ahead of their parents in their knowledge and exploration of the Internet. One-half of young people say they think they know more about the Internet than their parents do. Young people also say they are often on their own when they go online - 84% say they are by themselves when they go online at least some of the time and 70% say their parents talk to them very little or not at all about what they do online.

"This survey is a wake-up call to parents," says Anne Taylor, Media Awareness Network Co-Director. "Kids today are going online from home in much larger numbers than they are from school or from the public library. It's essential that parents get involved and ensure that their kids understand how to be safe, wise and responsible Internet users."

Findings indicate that Canadian young people are active Internet users, with 99% of all respondents saying they have used the Internet at some point and 79% accessing the Internet from home. A companion survey of over 1000 Canadian parents conducted last year for the Media Awareness Network indicated that parents feel they have quite a good knowledge of their kids' Internet use; MNet's most recent data shows, however, that they are not up to speed about what their kids are really doing online.

A majority of parents (65%) emphasized schoolwork when asked what their kids use the Internet for. Meanwhile, kids say they like to use the Internet for a wide variety of activities: playing and downloading music and games, using e-mail, using instant messaging (IM), and visiting chat rooms.

Young people do use the Internet for schoolwork (38%), though not as much as their parents think they do. However, as a homework tool, the Internet was ranked first among young people as their preferred source of information, followed by books from the public library and books from school.

"Our parent survey conducted last year indicated that while parents saw the Internet as beneficial to their children, providing supervision of its use made them feel overwhelmed and pressed for time," says Jan D'Arcy, MNet Co-Director. "This is why MNet has developed its national Web Awareness Canada program and established active partnerships with public libraries, educators and community leaders to deliver Internet education to parents and young people."

MNet's Web Awareness Canada program, offers a wide range of resources, such as:

  • practical advice on the Internet environments that kids enjoy
  • information on filtering and blocking software
  • useful tips on decoding online marketing strategies and evaluating Web site privacy policies
  • Internet guidelines for the home and classroom, and
  • two games, with study guides, addressing cyber-hate, online privacy and authentication of online information.

These and other resources can be found online at: <>

Licences for MNet's Web Awareness professional development resources have been purchased by the Canadian Library Association, for use by public libraries across Canada, and the ministries of education of Alberta, Yukon, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The Web Awareness Canada program is a key component of the Government of Canada's Strategy to Promote Safe, Wise and Responsible Internet Use. The national strategy, led by Industry Canada, was launched earlier this year.

For more information on the survey, including national and regional key findings, the full report, and related Web Awareness resources, visit:


For more information, contact:

Jan D'Arcy
Media Awareness Network
Tel: (613) 224-6892

Anne Taylor
Media Awareness Network
Tel: (613) 224-3271

Daphne Guerrero
Communications Coordinator
Media Awareness Network
Tel: (613) 224-7120