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How much time do people spend on social media and why?

A recent study by We Are Social and Hootsuite has looked at the time spent on the internet and, more precisely, on social networks worldwide in a recent report from July 2022

Published: Sep 3, 2022 09:30:24 AM IST
Updated: Sep 2, 2022 03:25:26 PM IST

How much time do people spend on social media and why?A recent study has looked into the time people spend on social networks worldwide in a recent report from July 2022. Image: Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

You just have to ride public transportation to see that everyone has their eyes glued to their smartphone. We Are Social and Hootsuite have looked at the time spent on the internet and, more precisely, on social networks worldwide in a recent report from July 2022.

People in the Philippines are the most internet addicted

Of the 7.98 billion people in the world, according to the latest UN figures, the study counted 5 billion users connected to the internet, or 63%, of which 92.4% use their phone to get online. This figure is nonetheless lower than in 2021. On average, an internet user spends 6 hours, 53 minutes online per day! While this may sound surprising, it's still three minutes less than during the same period in 2021, the study reports.

The mobile phone remains the most used device to access the internet, ahead of computers, chosen by 68% of users. Nigeria is the country where the most internet users use their phone to surf the web (98.4% of 16-64 year olds). Elsewhere, this figure does not fall below 83%, Denmark being the last country on the list with 83.2%.

But what do these internet users do online? According to the study, the most used type of sites and applications on the internet are chat and messaging services, for 95.7% of users, social networks follow closely with 95.2%. YouTube is the most visited website, according to the Semrush ranking in February 2022, ahead of Google and Facebook. Keeping in touch with friends and family is the second most popular reason for using the internet, for 54.7% of 16-64 year olds. But top of the list comes, "finding information," a rather vague reason, chosen by 60.2% of respondents.

Also read: India withdraws a proposed law on data protection

Worldwide, some countries are much more connected than others. Surprisingly, the Philippines is the leader when it comes to time spent online, with 10 hours 23 minutes spent per day on the Internet, via any device. That's more than twice the time spent by Japan's internet users, who stay connected for 4 hours, 3 minutes per day, below the world average of 6 hours, 53 minutes. Users in the United States are above average, with 7 hours, 11 minutes spent on the internet, although the country doesn't even make the top 10.

Countries that spend the most time on the internet per day via any device (from 16 to 64 years old)

1. The Philippines: 10 hours and 23 minutes

2. South Africa: 10 hours and 19 minutes

3. Brazil : 9 hours and 56 minutes

4. Argentina: 9 hours and 46 minutes

5. Colombia: 9 hours and 46 minutes

6. Malaysia: 9 hours and 04 minutes

7. Mexico: 8 hours and 56 minutes

8. Thailand: 8 hours and 49 minutes

9. United Arab Emirates: 8 hours and 28 minutes

10. Indonesia: 8 hours and 08 minutes

Africa has the biggest appetite for social media

The study counted 4.65 billion users on social networks, which is 326 million more than the same period in 2021. These users represent 93.1% of internet users in the world and 58.7% of the entire population. Men are most present on social networks (54.2%). Meanwhile, 75.1% of users on social networks are over 13 years old.

On average, internet users spend 2 hours and 29 minutes on social networks worldwide. That's 7 minutes more than the previous year. According to the report, Generation Z spends an average of 4.5 hours a day on social networks, making it their preferred platform for accessing entertainment, news, shopping and messaging.

Also read: Gaming time has little effect on short-term mental health: study

Once again, Japan takes a surprise spot in last place in the ranking of countries spending the most time on social networks. Japanese people aged 16-64 spend an average of 50 minutes on social platforms every day, behind South Korea (1 hour, 13 minutes) and the Netherlands (1 hour, 25 minutes). France is 41st with 1 hour, 46 minutes. The USA is 25th with 2 hours, 17 minutes, and the UK is 35th with 1 hour, 56 minutes. All fall below the world average. Nigeria tops the ranking with 4 hours, 49 minutes spent on social networks each day, followed by the Philippines.

Generation Z — 16-24 year olds — are the most addicted to social networks, especially women. They spend an average of 3 hours and 11 minutes online, compared to 2 hours and 40 minutes for men. Unsurprisingly, 55-64 year olds are the least keen on social platforms. Women spend 1 hour, 43 minutes of their time on these sites, compared to 1 hour, 26 minutes for men. Regardless of age, women remain the most present on social networks, in terms of time.

Juggling between several platforms

The use of social networks remains above all useful for keeping in touch with family and friends, for 47.5% of users aged 16 to 24. Meanwhile, 36.6% use social platforms to fill their free time. Some 34.8% log on to read news stories, while 31% use the networks to search for articles or videos.

Note that social network users also turn to these applications for shopping: 27.6% look for inspiration for activities or purchases, and 26.6% focus on finding products to buy.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook remains the most used platform by internet users, followed by YouTube and WhatsApp, before Instagram, WeChat, TikTok, Messenger and Douyin. Snapchat is ranked only 9th, while Twitter does not even make the top 10.

Users don't just use one social network. On average, 7.4 platforms are used per month worldwide. India is the country where the most social platforms are used per person, with an average of 8.7, compared to 3.7 in Japan.

If Facebook remains the most used platform, notably thanks to its astronomical number of users, 16.6% of 16-24 year olds say they prefer WhatsApp over Facebook and Instagram (14.9%). TikTok is chosen by only 4.6%, before Twitter (3.2%). Discord is the last platform and Snapchat is surprisingly the last but two with only 1.3% of preferences.

WhatsApp is the preferred platform for 55-64 year olds (20.9%), Facebook is more popular among 35-44 year olds (16.5%) while Instagram is more popular among the younger generations — 24.2% among 16-24 year olds and 18% for 25-34 year olds.

For users, each platform is used for different reasons. Facebook is most used to message friends and family at 71.1%. Users turn to TikTok (77.4%) and Reddit (37.8%) to have fun and search for entertaining content. Unsurprisingly, Instagram (69.9%) and Snapchat (40.3%) are the ideal platforms for posting/sharing photos and videos.

Time spent on social networks per day by country (ages 16-64)

1. Nigeria: 4 hours and 49 minutes

2. Philippines: 4 hours and 01 minutes

3. South Africa: 3 hours and 56 minutes

4. Brazil: 3 hours and 47 minutes

5. Colombia: 3 hours and 41 minutes

6. Ghana: 3 hours and 32 minutes

7. Mexico: 3 hours and 26 minutes

8. Kenya: 3 hours and 25 minutes

9. Argentina: 3 hours and 32 minutes

10. Indonesia: 3 hours and 19 minutes

By Sabrina Alili

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