Tracy L.M. Kennedy

PhD Research

The Domestic Internet

 

Welcome to my dissertation research page where I examine the Internet in the home. Here you will find updates on my research involvement with the Connected Lives Project, located at NetLab at the University of Toronto.

Media Release February 2006

Connected Lives - Connected Canadians

The Connected Lives Project, headed by Professor Barry Wellman and the University of Toronto, indicates that internet is an important tool for everyday life in Canadian households. 75% of Connected Lives participants in the East York area are connected to the internet, spending a median of 10 hours per week, and sending emails a median of 21 times per week. People are more connected than ever, and using the internet for the mundane tasks of daily life.

Communicating with others and seeking general information are still the most common uses of the internet from home, with women spending more hours a week (3.5) communicating with people then men do (3.1 hours). Men spend 3.7 hours per week searching for general information, whereas women spend 2.4 hours per week.

Tracy Kennedy, a PhD candidate and lecturer at the University of Toronto and Brock University says the internet is becoming domesticated, much like the telephone; "What we are seeing is that daily internet use is quite pervasive to the point where it's almost invisible". Kennedy's research investigates the household internet, and what the effects are on both individual and families; "Given the diversity of families in the East York area, we see the internet is changing the way household members carry out their daily tasks, whether work, school or leisure related; it's becoming increasingly integrated into people's everyday lives with households utilizing the internet in different ways from paid work, to communication with family and friends and general information to more context specific tasks such as seeking health information for children, looking for recipes for dinner and planning family vacations", says Kennedy.

Kennedy argues that not only are household routines changing, but also the layout of the home itself is as well. People are giving more consideration of where to put the computer with internet access; 62% of participants put their computer with internet access in what might be considered a 'private' space such as office or study, whereas 51% of respondents indicated the location of the computer with internet access in the living room, family room or kitchen area.

While researchers in the past have argued that ICTs interfere with family life, the Connected Lives Project doesn't see this happening; 60% say they never argue about who gets to use the internet and that little stress or conflict happens. As well, participants report that some of their online tasks are shared with household members. "People are 'showing and sharing' their online information with others, making internet use less solitary and more communal," states Kennedy. "This indicates to us that the internet isn't necessarily challenging cohesion in the home, but instead is reinforcing it in some situations". Travel information, real estate and researching products is often a collective activity in East York homes, as well as communicating with distant family members via instant messaging and web cameras.

Importantly, most people do not feel their time online interferes with household life, but instead the internet is a necessary tool for managing busy personal schedules and meeting the demanding routines of household members.

 

 

 

All information and material on this website is the intellectual property of Tracy L.M. Kennedy. Please do not cite without my permission. ©2003-2006