Last month, 71% of British Columbians told Research Co. and Glacier Media that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was “behind us” and a similar proportion (72%) expressed a desire to visit to relatives or friends in person over the next fortnight. These results suggest that residents of the province are ready to return to the way life was in 2019.
The way we buy has changed dramatically over the past two years. Fear of contagion has led many of us to order groceries online. Yet there are groups of British Columbians who continue to harbor concerns about their digital information.
In 2022, we see little movement in the number of British Columbians who participate in specific technology-related activities at least a few times a month. More than seven in 10 residents of the province visit blogging websites (89%, up two points since 2021), access banking information (87%, down one point), search for deals on websites (81%, up two points), using an instant messaging service (79%, up two points) and looking for directions and/or maps to get to a destination (73%, up four dots).
The needle did not move significantly for four other activities: buying goods on a website (60%, unchanged), posting on social media (57%, down two points), uploading photos or Internet videos (53%, up three points) and using the Internet to make phone calls (39%, down two points).
Some may have expected the end of the pandemic to prompt British Columbians to visit stores more often. The answer, as with many technology-related questions, varies by resident age. While 50% of British Columbians say they buy goods from a website “once a month or less,” the proportion drops to 30% among 35-54 year olds and 24% among 18-34 year olds. younger adults, the Internet is preferable to a physical location.
There is also little change in residents’ level of concern about a setback when using technology. Just over half of British Columbians have “occasionally” or “frequently” worried about two issues in the past two months: their personal information being stolen over the Internet (51%, down two points) and use of computers and technology to invade their privacy (also 51%, down two points). Slightly fewer residents were worried about someone hacking into their computer or smartphone (46%, down three points).
Our level of comfort in undertaking specific tasks online is also similar to last year. Significant majorities of British Columbians say they are “very comfortable” or “moderately comfortable” using a computer to shop (89%, up two points) and to access banking information (87 %, unchanged).
The numbers are lower when British Columbians are asked about making a charitable donation online (73%, unchanged) and commenting on an online forum that requires their email address (56%, up two points).
More than three in four British Columbians (78%) have more than one email address. That leaves 22% of residents managing everything at one address – a proportion that jumps to 31% among those aged 55 and over.
Some of the nuisances we identified last year continue to clutter British Columbians’ inboxes, with 63% (up two points) saying they’ve received a “phishing” message, in which a sender tries to acquiring personal information by impersonating a trustworthy entity. . There is also an increase (58%, up four points) in emails offering money for the recipient’s help or assistance.
Fewer British Columbians admit to having caught a virus while browsing the Internet (31%, unchanged), having had their social media platform hacked (16%, up one point) or having hack their email address (15%, unchanged).
More than three in five British Columbians (62%) have typed their name on Google to see what the internet is saying about them – a proportion that rises to 64% among women and 69% among 18-34 year olds. While 27% of these curious residents found nothing, 61% said the information they got was accurate. Only 12% say they have come across what can safely be called “fake news” about them on the internet.
Our annual look at how British Columbians relate to digital tools leaves us with two observations. First, there is a gender gap on some of these issues. Women are much more likely than men (46%) to “occasionally” or “frequently” worry about their personal information falling into the wrong hands (55%). Female respondents are also less likely than their male counterparts to feel “very comfortable” handling tasks such as online banking and shopping.
Finally, charities continue to face a huge problem as British Columbians are much more likely to trust online retailers to handle their information properly. There is a 17 point difference in extreme comfort level for online shopping (43%) and online charitable giving (26%). Some people want to give but are obviously put off by the appearance of some websites.
Mario Canseco is president of Research Co.
The findings are based on an online survey conducted May 26-28, 2022 of 800 adults in British Columbia. The data was statistically weighted according to Canadian census counts for age, sex and region in British Columbia. The margin of error – which measures the variability of the sample – is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.