According to just-released GfK research, Canadians are among the most empowered consumers globally when it comes to putting down their smartphones and turning off the TV.
In the study of 17 countries, Canada was one of only seven nations where people were more likely to firmly disagree1 than firmly agree with the statement, “I find it difficult to take a break from technology, … even when I know I should.” While more than 40% of consumers in China, Brazil, and Argentina said it is hard to disconnect from their devices, the level in Canada was just 23%.
On the other, 27% of Canadians said they firmly disagree with that statement – meaning they have little or no trouble setting aside technology when they need to. That ties Canada (with Russia) for 4th among the countries most likely to disagree with the “technology breaks” statement.
In Canada, gender seems to make little difference when it comes to unplugging from devices; 22% of women and 23% of men agree that they find it difficult to take a break from technology. Women are slightly more likely (28% versus 26%) to disagree with the “taking tech breaks” statement.
Internationally, GfK’s findings were similar to those in Canada, with the averages across 17 nations showing nearly equal percentages for men and women. Major age and income groups do show distinct differences, however, in susceptibility to being “always on.”
Younger age groups struggle most with technology attachment
Canadian consumers under age 40 have the greatest struggle with disconnecting from their devices. Over three in ten (34%) of those 20 to 29 years old say they have trouble taking tech breaks; the 15-to-19 and 30-to-39 age groups are not far behind, at 32% and 31% respectively. These are the only three age groups where agreement with the “trouble taking tech breaks” statement is higher than disagreement.
On the other hand, the 50-to-59 and 60-plus age groups in Canada have the highest percentage (36% each) of respondents who firmly disagree that it is difficult to take a break from technology. Only 9% of those 60+ agree with that statement, and 16% of the 50-to-59 age group.
Globally, teenagers (15 to 19 years old) are the most likely to struggle with technology attachment, with just under half (44%) firmly saying they find it difficult to take a tech break, even when they know they should. This dips to 41% for those in their twenties and to 38% for those in their thirties. The global figures then fall significantly for older age groups – standing at 29% of those in their forties, 23% for those in their fifties and 15% for those aged 60 and over.
Internationally, the 50-59 and 60+ age groups are the tipping point, where there are higher percentages who firmly indicate they have no problem turning off their technology, than the percentages saying they struggle to take a break.
High-income households have most trouble taking tech breaks
Canadian consumers in high-income households (the top 25%, in terms of household earnings) struggle most with disconnecting digitally; 26% in this group firmly agree that it is difficult to take a break from their devices, while only 20% disagree. By comparison, in low-income households (the lowest-earning 25%), disagreement (29%) with the statement is more common than agreement (22%).
Across the 17 countries globally, almost four in ten (39%) people living in high-income households find it difficult to take a break from technology, even when they know they should, while 11% find it easy – a gap of 28 points. This contrasts to those in low-income households, where 30% find it difficult, while 20% find it easy – a gap of only 10 percentage points.
A complimentary report showing findings by gender, age and income for each of the 17 countries is available here: www.gfk.com/global-studies/global-study-overview/
About the study
GfK asked over 22,000 consumers (aged 15 or over) online in 17 countries how strongly they agree or disagree with the statement, “I find it difficult to take a break from technology (my mobile device, computer, the TV, etc.), even when I know I should”
1 Data presented in this release represents the bottom 2 boxes (disagreement) and top 2 boxes (agreement) from on a 7-point scale where “1” means “don’t agree at all”, and “7” means “agree completely”.
Fieldwork was completed in summer 2016. Data are weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the online population aged 15+ in each market. The global average given in this release is weighted based on the size of each country proportional to the other countries. Countries covered are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain, UK and USA.
GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers’ experiences and choices.