Young Canadians in a Wireless World

On-going research study

Initiated in 2000 by MediaSmarts, Young Canadians in a Wireless World is the most comprehensive and wide-ranging study of its kind in Canada. The research project tracks and investigates the behaviours, attitudes and opinions of Canadian children and youth with respect to their use of the internet and technology.

Young Canadians in a Wireless World (YCWW) – formerly known as Young Canadians in Wired World is Canada’s longest running, and most comprehensive research study on young people’s attitudes and behaviours regarding the internet, surveying over 20,000 parents, teachers, and students since 2000.

This current phase of YCWW began in 2019, and the first findings from focus groups is presented in the report Talking to Youth and Parents about Online Resiliency. A quantitative survey is being conducted with 5,000 students in 2020. Phase IV also began with a name change to the project – from Young Canadians in a Wired World to Young Canadians in a Wireless World.

In 2004-2005, although youth participants still enjoyed online activities, they were becoming aware of how often they were being monitored. In response, they developed several strategies to keep their online lives private. Adults, on the other hand, were beginning to conclude that young people were largely “wasting their time” playing games and chatting.

At the time (2000-2001), parents were excited about the prospects of having their children use new technologies to help them learn and prepare for their future of work; they tended to exercise a benign neglect online, trusting their children to come to them if they ran into problems. Youth participants felt that online media were completely private because adults didn’t have the skills to find them there and they enjoyed a wide range of creative uses such as identity play and exploring the adult world.