Canadians who are heavy Internet users devote less time to household work and personal care and have fewer interactions with their spouse, partner or friends, according to a study released by Statistics Canada.
Presumably, those significant others were scrubbing the floors and giving sponge baths to their slacker partners.
"Heavy Internet users — defined as those spending more than one hour on the Internet for personal use during the diary day — lead lifestyles that are considerably different from non-Internet users and even moderate Internet users," the study found. "The greatest difference is that they spend significantly less time at paid work. They also spend less time on domestic work and on personal care activities such as sleep and relaxation."
The study — called "The Internet: Is It Changing the Way Canadians Spend Their Time?" — covered 19,600 respondents ages 15 and older who were asked to keep a diary of all their activities in a 24-hour period. The survey was conducted in 2005.
The survey found that 59% of heavy users were male. Moderate users — those who use the Internet between five minutes and one hour per day — were evenly divided by gender.
Heavy Internet users were also younger, with a mean age of 37.4, vs. 45.1 for those who did not use the Internet on the day they completed the survey.
Heavy users spent an average of 1.7 hours in the day on housework or child care, compared with 2.5 hours spent on such tasks by those who did not go online on the survey day. Even when figures were adjusted to compare users with similar characteristics (such as age, gender, education and number of children), heavy Internet users still spent 33 minutes less time on domestic work.
The study also indicated that Internet use did not come at the expense of other media.
"Moderate Internet users were likely to spend a slightly shorter period of time watching T.V. (by just over 13 minutes during the diary day compared to non-users), but once controlling for social and demographic factors, the difference was no longer significant," Statistics Canada reported. "Most interestingly, there was no significant difference between heavy Internet users and non-users."
Similarly, Internet users did not spend less time reading print media such as books or newspapers, the study found.
The study did not look at multitasking; respondents were asked to list only the primary activity.