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Canada’s Internet paradox: Will more Wi-Fi lower online addiction?

It may also turn out that continuous access could encourage more productive and educational uses of the Internet.

More and more restaurants and coffee houses offer internet connection in a breeze for their customers. — © Digital Journal
More and more restaurants and coffee houses offer internet connection in a breeze for their customers. — © Digital Journal

It is estimated that 92 percent of Canada’s population are Internet users, which equates to 37.1 million Canadians being connected. As of the third quarter of 2023, Canadians spent an average of one hour and 17 minutes per day using social media and more than six hours per day using the Internet in general.

With these data comes increasing concerns over digital overuse and addiction.

How might this be tackled? Paradoxically, some argue that in this diverse and connected landscape then expanding Wi-Fi accessibility could be the optimal strategy to mitigate Internet addiction.

This argument comes from the firm ProxyScrape who put forward the notion that with Canada’s vast territories and scattered populations, comprehensive Wi-Fi coverage is crucial for economic growth and social inclusivity. However, as more areas get connected, concerns about Internet addiction also grow.

Here, it is suggested, that limited access leads to concentrated periods of online activity, and with it the intensification of addictive behaviours.

Hence, increasing Wi-Fi coverage and access, could lead to individual experiencing less compulsion to “binge connect.” The idea would be to transform Internet access from a coveted resource to a ubiquitous one. Here are some possible outcomes of widespread Wi-Fi access:

It may also turn out that continuous access could encourage more productive and educational uses of the Internet, reducing the attraction of compulsive and recreational use. The rise of technology in schools has made learning more efficient.

This could help students by making information accessible, reducing stress from repetitive tasks, and enabling faster communication with teachers, better preparing them for a tech-driven future.

Thibeau Maerevoet, CEO of ProxyScrape, tells Digital Journal: “Expanded Wi-Fi is not just about more bandwidth or faster speeds; it’s about recalibrating our relationship with digital spaces. When connectivity becomes a constant rather than a luxury, people begin to set healthier boundaries for themselves.”

To leverage increased Wi-Fi for reducing Internet addiction, Maerevoet thinks that several actionable measures can be introduced:

  • Public Education on Healthy Internet Use: Communities need comprehensive programs on balanced Internet use. 
  • Promote Digital Literacy: Understanding the diverse online tools and resources can transform user habits from passive consumption to active and purposeful interaction. 
  • Encouraging Offline Communities: Building local community groups and activities that offer attractive alternatives to online entertainment. 
  • Implement Usage Monitoring Tools: Encourage the use of apps that monitor time spent online, promoting self-awareness among users.

Employing these strategies alongside expanded Wi-Fi access could change how Canadians interact with their digital devices. Instead of compulsive scrolling sessions, users might engage in short, purposeful periods online, enhancing their awareness and control over their digital consumption, says Maerevoet.

He concludes with: “As we rethink our relationship with technology, perhaps the key lies not in reducing connections but in making them smarter, more accessible, and more integrated into a balanced lifestyle.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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