Canadian Association of Family Resource Programs (FRP Canada)–2009–10

707–331 Cooper Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K2P 0G5
Tel.: 613-237-7667
Fax: 613-237-8515

1. Vulnerable Families as E-Consumers: Current Attitudes, Behaviours and Barriers to E-Information


Multiple literacies are involved as people adapt to a new technology. While the digital divide in household access to the Internet may be narrowing, there is a need to consider other dimensions of communication inequality. Access barriers include not having a home computer with Internet capacity and not having a credit card to make on-line purchases. Other less explored dimensions of e-consumer inequality involve the lack of technical skills, experience, confidence or "social connections". These barriers may discourage parents from on-line searching for consumer information such as health and safety or parenting information. This study will focus on identifying whether barriers that involve skills, knowledge and perceptions are determining factors for three sub-groups of low income families (vulnerable consumers) in assessing family life information on-line with a focus on product safety information.

Key areas to be investigated are: literacy skills (technological and language), knowledge about the benefits of e-information, confidence in e-information, and exploring the perception that e-technology may be incongruent to time-stressed and often challenging life circumstances or cultural considerations.

This research will contribute to a better understanding of the steps needed to ensure that all Canadians, including the most vulnerable, have access to the information they need to increase health and safety for themselves and their children.

Expected Outcome

It is expected that a clear understanding will be gained about the factors that influence e-consumer practices of the 10 families in each sub-group in three geographical regions. In addition, the research team will learn what role, if any, is currently played by community family resource centres in supporting the e-consumer practices of vulnerable families in relation to family well-being issues. Findings will influence the future presentation of information on Canada's Family Resource Programs and other organizations' websites for parents.