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By Brian Lilley, Parliamentary Bureau

OTTAWA — Facebook is quickly becoming a national pastime in Canada with 73% of Canadians saying they have an account with the popular social network.

But how Canadians use it differs from generation to generation.

“Membership is one thing, but the critical data is how people use their Facebook accounts,” said Alex Monk with Ottawa’s Abacus Data, the company behind the poll.

Monk said that while all generations use Facebook, there is still a generational gap.

“The real gap is in how the different generations use social media,” Monk said.

At least half of all demographic groups say they are on Facebook daily with 45% of Canadians aged 18-29 saying they are on multiple times a day or always on Facebook. Even among those over 60, 50% say they are checking Facebook every day.

The most telling generational difference was shown when Abacus asked Canadians how they are likely to hear about a noteworthy event in a friend’s life. While 51% of Canadians aged 45 and over said a phone call was the most likely way to hear news from a friend’s life, for those aged 18-29 the most likely way to hear the news was Facebook.

“That’s what makes the millennial generation so different from the others,” Monk said.

Another difference was noted in how comfortable people are in sharing personal information online.

Older Canadians are less likely to share personal details on Facebook with 37% of those over 60 saying that sharing is too risky. Among Canadians aged 18-29 just 21% felt that sharing was too risky while 66% said they shared some information.

The online survey conducted Dec. 3 and 6 polled 1,362 people in both French and English.

Good Decisions Require Good Data.