It's been three long years since Toronto-based fashion blogger Jay Strut has been able to keep himself away from the Internet for more than a day or two - and he doesn't intend to let that happen again.
The 20-year-old blogger, whose real name is Joshua DeMaria, fully admits he's completely addicted to being online and for this he blames the social network Twitter, which he first joined a little more than two years ago.
He's not alone. In fact, a new report suggests it's Twitter that drives Canada's biggest Internet users to spend twice as much time online as average web surfers.
Canada's heaviest Internet users also tend to be younger, live in Toronto or Montreal, have higher incomes or take public transit, suggests the study, prepared by CBC/Radio-Canada and BBM Analytics.
In just about every demographic, Internet use in Canada has grown rapidly over the last few years. The report suggests the average anglophone Internet user was online 17.1 hours a week in the fall of 2010, up from 4.8 hours in 1997. Francophone users were on the Internet for about 12.7 hours a week, up from 4.1 hours in 1997.
Between 2003 and 2010, Internet use grew by 26 per cent among anglophone users and 36 per cent among francophones. Usage numbers have really spiked for users older than 50, with a 52 per cent increase among older anglophones in that time frame and an 85 per cent increase among those francophone users.
But it's Twitter users who really have off-the-charts usage numbers in the report. Anglophone Twitter users averaged about 33.4 hours online a week, while francophones were at 23.8 hours.
"Oh my God, I have to say that's me," Mr. DeMaria says with a laugh.
"I wake up at about 10 o'clock and then I'm on the computer literally the whole day pretty much."
He says it was Twitter, and the ability to constantly be in communication with interesting people around the world, that pushed his online time higher and higher.
"Twitter changed me and got me addicted to going online. I want to get people always talking to me. I want to always be in contact with people. You never know who's reading; you never know who'll respond."
The report suggests increasing smartphone and tablet use, along with the availability of better content online, are also fuelling the surge in time spent on the web.
Internet users with smartphones also spent much more time online than average, with anglophone iPhone users clocking in at 24.4 hours and BlackBerry owners at 23.3 hours. Among francophones, BlackBerry users spent slightly more time online at 20.2 hours a week, versus 19.4 hours for iPhone users.
The last time Mr. DeMaria spent a good chunk of time offline was during a 10-day vacation in 2008.
"Since then, never again," he says, adding that during his next trip, he'll probably be blogging and tweeting about it.
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