Our changing home lives: Goodbye dinner parties, hello video games!

Home life, Fifties-style

Home life, Fifties-style (click for source)

We’re spending less time reading and socializing, and more time browsing the Internet and playing video games. So suggests a Statistics Canada study examining how Canadians use their time, quietly released last summer.

Adjusted for population growth, Canadians spent about four times as much time using their computers for recreational purposes in 2010 as they did in 1998. Though the gradual disappearance of the computerless household can be credited for part of this, so can a sharp rise (from 5% in 1998 to 24% in 2010) in the percentage of Canadians who spent at least part of the day puttering around on the computer.

Video games in particular enjoyed a meteoric rise over those 12 years, with the amount of time Canadians spent playing games — again adjusted for population growth — tripling between 1998 and 2010.

The biggest losers in this time-shift: reading and socializing at home.

Between 1998 and 2010, Canadians hacked 23 percent off their reading-time budgets and 15 percent off their socializing-at-home time.

Participation rates also tumbled, with the percentage of Canadians who spent part of their day reading books, newspapers and magazines dropping from one-third to one-quarter, and the percentage who spent time at home socializing with family and friends during the typical day dropping from 55 percent to 48 percent.

Television viewing took a smaller hit, the amount of time spent channel-surfing dropping by five percent between 1998 and 2010.

The effect can be seen in the nation’s bookstores and newspapers, both of which had a miserable first decade of the 21st century as demand for their products waned.

More time spent online is also poised to put more strain on Canada’s health care system in the future, with more time spent online being associated with higher levels of obesity and less Vitamin D intake, which in itself puts people “at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and a lot of cancers”.

There were some bright spots, however.  Housekeeping, cooking and washing up took up less of Canadians’ time in 2010 than they did in 1998. We also got a little more sleep (13 minutes, or 3%, more per night in 2010 than we did in 1998).

The news was a little more mixed on the work front, with the average Canadian employee’s working hours being four minutes shorter in 2010 than in 1998, but the unpaid part of the workday — such as commuting — taking an extra eight minutes out of the day.


About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

One Response to Our changing home lives: Goodbye dinner parties, hello video games!

  1. Interesting read. Back in university I read a study that looked at the declining levels of volunteering in the 1960s. It looked at various factors impacting the decline of volunteering, however it concluded that the decline in volunteering was directly related to the increase in television watching. Your post made me think of that study.

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