Internet Mistrust Causes eGeneration Gap: Canadian Seniors vs Youth (Statistics) ©

Statistics Canada has reported that senior Canadians are steadily increasing their Internet usage.  What they’re doing online is often different than younger surfers, including listening to music or watching videos.  This data left us wondering why there is such an e-generation gap, so we followed up with an informal survey of our own.

Statistics Canada Survey of Canadian Senior Citizens

2010 statistics revealed that 60% of seniors aged 65 to 74 are active online, and they’re joined by 29% of those over 75.  By comparison, almost 100% of Canadian youth aged 15-24 were online by 2010.

While 87% of the 15 to 24 age group enjoyed downloaded music weekly, only 10% of Canadian seniors 65 to 74 listened to downloaded music that often.  Seniors still listened to music in traditional formats (CD, cassette, etc.), they’re just not big on downloads. In 2010, over 50% of those over 45 who listen to music used traditional formats.  A mere 6% of Canadian youth 15 to 24 listened to music in traditional format.

The same habits are reflected in video viewing.  Only 10% of Canadian senior citizens watched videos online in 2010, by comparison to almost 80% of our youth.Internet Mistrust Accounts for Generation Gap Between Senior Citizens and Youth in Canada (Statistics)

Our Informal Survey of Canadian Seniors

We asked online Canadian senior citizens to tell us why this e-generation gap exists, by conducting an informal e-mail survey.  While we had their attention, we decided to throw in a couple of questions regarding online shopping.  The informal survey generated 381 responses.

  • 100% cited security fears of downloads in general
  • 47% didn’t want to buy new equipment (such as an MP3 player)
  • 36% said they didn’t want to learn how to download music or videos
  • 36% said the only videos they viewed were on Facebook when they were posted by people in their network
  • 17% said they’re more interested in online video since seeing TV advertisements for companies such as NetFlix

In regards to shopping online:

  • 100% of those who had never ordered online cited security concerns as their top reason for not doing so
  • 75% had researched a product online
  • 48% had ordered something online
  • 33% said it would make their lives easier if they felt they could safely order online
  • 14% had asked someone else to order something online on their behalf

It’s clear that we have a long way to go before Canada’s senior citizens are ready to entrust their information to us, or risk downloading.  On one hand, I’m happy that seniors have become savvy enough to be careful online.  I would rather lose their purchase by default than see them hurt by internet criminals.  On the other hand, I would love to have more ways to reassure them.

Comment on Canadians Internet BusinessWhat do you think we can do to reassure Canadian senior citizens?  A Canadian Government or independent safety certification?  Transaction security through providers like PayPal or banks?  Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Statistics Canada

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Listen Up, Brands: What Online Canadian Moms Want (Statistics)
Canadian Grocery Shoppers Hungry for Omni-Channel Savings and Convenience (Statistics)


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Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website | + posts

Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In 25 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and ecommerce websites. Her book, 7 Recession Proof Online Businesses to Start From Home, is available on Amazon.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on, and, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

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Jim F.

Very good points. Canadian seniors are especially hesitant in my experience. Trust can be built but you really have to focus on it and make extra effort.


Great job! We need more information and intel for Canadian businesses who want to get into internet sales and marketing.


I know a few seniors who said they’d never use the internet and now they don’t go a day without it. They’ll come around and when they do they’ll see it improves their quality of life as long as they’re careful. Great post!

Mitchel Ladner

I’m not sure about getting the gov involved as they tend to make everything worse. There are certifiers out there but I don’t know how much weight they’d carry with the senior set. It’s probably something they have to get used to over time like everyone else did, they’re just late adopters.


Thanks for doing the survey. I’ve researched the senior market and it’s a tough nut to crack.


I think seniors will always be wary of the internet and you know what? They’re probably the smartest of us all for it!