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The 44th Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy. 
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Friday, September 30 • 2:15pm - 3:45pm
Achieving Meaningful Participation in the Digital Economy: A Canadian Case-Study

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Social networks, entertainment, e-commerce, e-government are some of the many activities that are greatly enhanced by a digitally connected society. Despite the enabling and life-improving impacts of online participation, low internet use remains a troublesome trend in communities where broadband is both available and affordable. 

Fresh research has uncovered that barriers to online adoption are more complex than previously understood. A recent study by IPSOS Canada demonstrates that the predominant factor in staying offline is a perception that the internet does not relate to users (49%). Another major factor is linked to skills and usability issues (22%). Further research by IPSOS demonstrates that even when looking at the connected population, many users have a low and moderate level of online participation that is attributable to a lack of skills, interest or awareness. Similarly, in the United States, Pew Research found that 15% of adults are not using the Internet, of which 33% cite irrelevance as a key factor. 

These findings raise new, crusty questions on the real trends and barriers to online adoption. What are the hurdles inhibiting participation beyond the cost of access? How can we formulate policy that sparks adoption? With the aim of widening and deepening the TPRC community’s knowledge of adoption trends, this panel will frame the challenge and ignite a data-driven, candid conversation using Canada as a case-study. The TPRC community will grapple with the big and broad question on how to ensure that the internet remains a meaningful and transformative technology for all. 

In particular, the panel will weave together four themes. First, the panel will explore how to define meaningful online participation by auditing activities and time spent online. Subsequently, it will identify a robust profile of attitudes and behaviors that characterize those who do not leverage the internet to its full potential. The third theme will examine the barriers to internet adoption by shedding light on socio-psychological factors, such as digital literacy, which inhibit online participation. Lastly, the panel will look at the policymaking environment in Canada and elsewhere. This discussion will explore creative and effective public policy measures that can engage and educate on the benefits of a fuller digital experience. 

The panel will be composed of the following voices. Panelist #1 will discuss a Canadian research study that provides insights on demographic profiles and engagement levels of internet users. The panelist will also identify barriers to adoption and identify enablers for meaningful participation. Panelist #2 will provide a deeper dive into the socio-economic consequences of not fully participating digitally. This panelist will explore the real implications of this challenge on both the personal and societal levels.Panelist #3 will share best practices in policymaking that promote internet adoption.


Mike Colledge

President, Ipsos
avatar for Jenna Jacobson

Jenna Jacobson

Assistant Professor, Ryerson University

Catherine Middleton

Canada Research Chair, Ryerson University
Ryerson University -

Friday September 30, 2016 2:15pm - 3:45pm
Founders Rm 111 George Mason University

Attendees (13)