It’s that time of the year, the time when we ask the “hard” questions. This time, I’ve decided to delve into how much time society is spending on social media. I won’t be looking at any specific country, though.
Instead, I’ll go over the worldwide stats for time spend using social media and talk about the following topics:
- Average time spent on social media per country in October 2022
- Average time spent on social media per gender and age in October 2022
- Average time spent on social media from Q2 2020 to Q2 2022
- Average time spent on social media as a percentage of the total time spent online per country in October 2020
- Average time spent on social media as a percentage of the total time spent online per gender and age in October 2020
- Average time spent on social media as a percentage of the total time spent online from Q2 2020 to Q2 2022
- Most common reasons for using social media in October 2022
For this article, I’ll mainly be using Data Reportal’s quarterly social media report for October 2022 to provide the data. Then, I’ll offer my commentaries and interpret the data to make sense of it.
Let’s begin, then!
Average Daily Time Spent on Social Media per Country
The first chart we’ll be working with is one that shows the average amount of time spent on social media per country in October 2022. This should give us a clean start on assessing society’s obsession with social media.
Here’s the chart:
|Country||Daily Time Spent on Social Media|
|Worldwide Average||2 hours and 20 minutes|
|Nigeria||4 hours and 20 minutes|
|Brazil||3 hours and 44 minutes|
|South Africa||3 hours and 44 minutes|
|Philippines||3 hours and 42 minutes|
|Colombia||3 hours and 35 minutes|
|Ghana||3 hours and 23 minutes|
|Kenya||3 hours and 22 minutes|
|Argentina||3 hours and 18 minutes|
|Mexico||3 hours and 17 minutes|
|Indonesia||3 hours and 7 minutes|
|Morocco||2 hours and 53 minutes|
|Saudi Arabia||2 hours and 50 minutes|
|U.A.E.||2 hours and 50 minutes|
|Malaysia||2 hours and 49 minutes|
|Turkey||2 hours and 47 minutes|
|India||2 hours and 44 minutes|
|Thailand||2 hours and 43 minutes|
|Egypt||2 hours and 34 minutes|
|Romania||2 hours and 25 minutes|
|Vietnam||2 hours and 23 minutes|
|Portugal||2 hours and 22 minutes|
|Israel||2 hours and 17 minutes|
|Russia||2 hours and 17 minutes|
|Singapore||2 hours and 14 minutes|
|U.S.A.||2 hours and 11 minutes|
|Taiwan||2 hours and 10 minutes|
|Sweden||2 hours and 8 minutes|
|Ireland||2 hours and 2 minutes|
|China||2 hours and 1 minute|
|Canada||1 hour and 59 minutes|
|New Zealand||1 hour and 59 minutes|
|Hong Kong||1 hour and 56 minutes|
|Poland||1 hour and 56 minutes|
|Spain||1 hour and 56 minutes|
|Greece||1 hour and 55 minutes|
|Czechia||1 hour and 53 minutes|
|Denmark||1 hour and 52 minutes|
|U.K.||1 hour and 52 minutes|
|Italy||1 hour and 49 minutes|
|France||1 hour and 46 minutes|
|Switzerland||1 hour and 42 minutes|
|Germany||1 hour and 41 minutes|
|Belgium||1 hour and 39 minutes|
|Netherlands||1 hour and 35 minutes|
|Austria||1 hour and 30 minutes|
|South Korea||1 hour and 11 minutes|
The global average of time spent on social media is around 2 hours and 20 minutes, which is almost half of Nigeria’s time spent on social media.
We have two polar extremes on this chart. On the one hand, we have Nigeria where the average time spent on social media is 4 hours and 20 minutes, and on the other hand, we have Japan where the average time is 49 minutes.
Here are a few possible reasons for this:
- Nigeria has been on the fast track in terms of gaining internet access for some years now. Naturally, social media will be one of the most appealing activities there
- Nigeria also has a very young population, with the median age being 18.4 years. And we all know that younger individuals tend to spend more time on social media
- Over 20% of Nigeria’s population owns a smartphone and that growth is expected to reach 60% by 2025
- Japan’s culture focuses on face-to-face personal relationships and privacy while online. They prefer building meaningful social relationships with the people around them, which effectively means social media is not as important to them. Imagine that…
- Japan is also a very “workaholic” country where employees work overtime a lot of the time, and social media just isn’t on their list of priorities
I’d say that the biggest common denominator between countries with lower social media use and those with high social media use is culture. Different cultures work differently.
If a given culture emphasizes quick and easy socialization, then social media is a natural avenue for that. But if they value the building of deeper connections, then face-to-face communication may be more valuable.
There’s also the quality of life of a given country. I think that countries with a lower quality of life have, on average, more time spent on social media due to heightened social and psychological needs.
Individuals need to seek out comfort and relief from day-to-day problems and have something to aspire toward. And social media, especially platforms like Facebook and Instagram, are all about that.
The better off a country is, the less social media they need because their lives as satisfying enough. Plus, chances are that their social networking is done face-to-face.
Anyway, let’s look at the average time spent online per age and gender. Below!
Global Average Daily Time Spent Online per Age & Gender
Let’s have a more granular look at the individual level and see how much time men and women spend on social media based on age.
|Age||Men’s Average Time Spent on Social Media||Women’s Average Time Spent on Social Media|
|16-23 years old||2 hours and 39 minutes||3 hours and 10 minutes|
|25-34 years old||2 hours and 39 minutes||2 hours and 52 minutes|
|35-44 years old||2 hours and 22 minutes||2 hours and 27 minutes|
|45-54 years old||1 hour and 53 minutes||2 hours and 4 minutes|
|55-64 years old||1 hour and 25 minutes||1 hour and 38 minutes|
It seems that, in every age bracket, women seem to spend more time on social media. If we do some quick calculations, we’ll even find out the overall average difference between the genders when considering all the age brackets.
Apparently, women of any age should spend an average of 2 hours and 36 minutes on social media, which is 24 minutes more than men (2 hours and 12 minutes).
To put this into perspective, I’ve also calculated the rate of decline based on the age bracket. See it below:
|From ages 16 – 23 to 25 – 34||From ages 25 – 34 to 35 – 44||From ages 35 – 44 to 45 – 54||From ages 45 – 54 to 55 – 64|
|Men’s Decline Rate in Social Media Use||~0%||~12%||~19%||~26%|
|Women’s Decline Rate in Social Media Use||~7%||~15%||~13%||~14%|
So, not only do men spend less time on social media than women but the decline in their time spent on social media is more significant than in the women’s case.
By the time men reach the age of 64, they’ll usually end up spending 57% less time on social media, while women will spend up to 49% less time by the time they reach the same age.
Remember, though, these are only approximations made in October 2022 and every individual is different. These estimations don’t apply to everyone. Still, we have an idea of how men and women use social media at different ages.
Next up, we’ll take a look at the daily time spent on social media from Q2 2020 to Q2 2022.
Global Daily Time Spent on Social Media Q2 2020 – Q2 2022
We’ll see if people are using social media more or less during the two-year period between Q2 2020 and Q2 2022. See the chart below:
|Period||Time Spent on Social Media|
|Q2 2020||2 hours and 30 minutes|
|Q3 2020||2 hours and 25 minutes (- 3.3% from the previous quarter)|
|Q4 2020||2 hours and 22 minutes (- 2.1% from the previous quarter)|
|Q1 2021||2 hours and 24 minutes (+1.4% from the previous quarter)|
|Q2 2021||2 hours and 27 minutes (+2.1% from the previous quarter)|
|Q3 2021||2 hours and 28 minutes (+0.7% from the previous quarter)|
|Q4 2021||2 hours and 29 minutes (+0.7% from the previous quarter)|
|Q1 2022||2 hours and 29 minutes (no difference)|
|Q2 2022||2 hours and 28 minutes (-0.7% from the previous quarter)|
All in all, people seem to be spending 1.33% less time on social media in Q2 2022 than they spent in Q2 2020. That’s not exactly encouraging but at least the time spent hasn’t increased.
If we take a look at some of the upticks in social media use, we might notice that Q1 and Q2 2021 correspond with the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
I estimate that, due to being isolated at home and working from home, people resorted to social media for entertainment and staying up-to-date with the news. The lack of activity led to a slight increase in social media use.
This kept going until the end of 2021, and in Q2 2022, the time spent on social media began to decrease. If we conducted such a study in 2023, perhaps we’ll see further decreases in time spent on social media throughout 2022.
We can also conclude that social media use is at a plateau level for most of the time. Around the 2 hour and 28-30 minutes, mark is when nothing disrupting is happening in the world. If something major happens, social media use may increase or decrease, depending on the event.
Let’s move on to the next section and get into more details!
Time Spent on Social Media vs. Time Spent Online
It’ll be very interesting to see how much time people are spending on social media out of the total time spent online.
This will show a clearer picture of how people use the internet and how much of their time social media takes. See the chart below!
|Country||Time Spent on Social Media as a Share of the Total Time Spent Online|
As always, Japan is at the very bottom of the chart, with only 21.7% of online time spent on using social media for the average Japanese citizen.
At the very top is India with 41.5% of online time spent on using social media. The U.S. sits at a comfortable 30.7%, which is pretty good if you ask me.
Either way, the worldwide average is 37.3%. It’s pretty clear that many of the people using social media a lot live in developing countries with a reduced quality of life.
I’ve already explained this how this phenomenon works, and remember, this is my personal view. Of course, quality of life is not the only or not even the strongest indicator of social media use.
Culture is also important. Different countries have different cultures, and some are more accepting of the type of social interactions that social media promotes. Others, like Japan, are not.
In the next section, we’ll be taking a look at the time spent on social media as a percentage of time spent online for genders and age groups.
Social Media’s Share of Time Spent Online On Age & Gender
We’ve seen how the world spends its time on social media and we’ve also seen how different genders and age brackets use social media. But we haven’t seen it all.
Now, I’ll show you how different genders and age brackets spend time on social media as part of their time spent online. We’ll be working with percentages, as always.
See the chart below:
|Age Bracket||Men’s Social Media Use as % of the Total Time Spent Online||Women‘s Social Media Use as % of the Total Time Spent Online|
|16-24 years old||37.2%||41.2%|
|25-34 years old||38.2%||41.2%|
|35-44 years old||36.7%||37.3%|
|45-54 years old||32.3%||34.6%|
|55-64 years old||27.3%||30.7%|
Again, we see that women tend to spend more of their online time using social media, compared to men. Out of the total time spent online, women are present more on social media compared to men.
This figure does decline over time but they never score lower than men, even in the 55-64 age bracket. It seems that women tend to like social media quite a lot more than men.
This means that women may also be more likely to buy stuff from social media, given that they’re using it more than men. Advertisers would do well to learn 😀
We have two more sections in this article and then I’ll be giving you my honest impression about everything. Next, I’ll show you the social media use from the total time spent online from Q2 2020 to Q2 2022.
Social Media’s Share of Time Spent Online Q2 2020 – Q2 2022
Remember how the other chart showed that the average daily time spent on social media declined from Q2 2020 to Q2 2022? The difference was small, around -1.33% less time spent on social media, but it was still a decline.
Well, in this chart I’ll show you that, while that’s true, people actually dedicate more of their time online on social media. See the chart below that shows the share of social media time as a percentage of the total time spent online between Q2 2020 to Q2 2022.
|Period||Share of Social Media Time Expenditure as % of the Total Time Spent Online|
|Q3 2020||34.9% (-3.3% from last quarter)|
|Q4 2020||34.1% (-2.3% from the last quarter)|
|Q1 2021||34.7% (+1.7% from last quarter)|
|Q2 2021||35.3% (+1.6% from last quarter)|
|Q3 2021||35.5% (+0.7% from last quarter)|
|Q4 2021||36.1% (+1.7% from last quarter)|
|Q1 2022||36.4% (+1% from last quarter)|
|Q2 2022||37.3% (+2.3% from last quarter)|
As you can see, back in Q2 2020, people worldwide spent approximately 36.1% of their time online on social media. Two years later, in Q2 2022, that number had gone up to 37.3%, a 3.32% increase in the 2-year period.
I can’t help but attribute this to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well. During those trying times, isolation got the best of us and social media was the only recourse we had.
It offered safety, communication, news, and a way to see what’s happening in the world and to communicate with our loved ones.
The restrictions did lessen considerably toward the end of Q2 2022 but that didn’t stop us from using social media at the same rate we’d become accustomed to during the pandemic.
However, don’t let this chart fool you – it only shows that, out of the total time spent online, we dedicated more of it to social media.
But overall, the use of social media worldwide has gone down by 2 minutes from Q2 2020 to Q2 2022, as I’ve shown you in a previous chart.
Now, all that’s left to show you are the list of the most common reasons people give for using social media. This is up-to-date as of October 2022. See below:
Most Common Reasons Why People Use Social Media in October 2022
Back in October 2022, Data Reportal got ahold of data showing the main reasons for using social media worldwide, and it’s pretty in-depth.
See the summary below:
- Keeping in touch with friends and family – 47%
- Filling spare time – 35.4%
- Reading news stories – 34.6%
- Finding content – 30%
- Seeing what’s being talked about – 28.7%
- Finding inspiration for things to do and buy – 27%
- Finding products to purchase – 26.2%
- Sharing and discussing opinions with others – 23.9%
- Watching live streams – 23.8%
- Making new contacts – 23.4%
- Seeing content from your favorite brands – 22.6%
- Work-related networking or research – 22.1%
- Watching or following sports – 21.9%
- Finding like-minded communities and interest groups – 21.7%
- Posting about your life – 21.2%
- Following celebrities or influencers – 20.9%
- Avoiding missing out on things – 20.5%
- Supporting or connecting with good causes – 16.5%
As you would expect, the most popular reason for using social media was to keep in touch with friends and family. This isn’t necessarily a follow-up to the pandemic but rather a very strong reason why most people use social media.
And the second most common reason is to fill up spare time. See, this is where it becomes problematic. Using social media, for this reason, is akin to wasting that time when you could be productive or do something more engaging instead of endlessly scrolling away.
FOMO (fear of missing out) is also on this list, and apparently, 20.5% of people identify with this reason when on social media. That’s…alright, then.
And let’s take a moment to contemplate that men and women have different reasons for using social media, and different age brackets also have different interests. Typically, younger users might be more interested in following influencers, buying stuff, and getting into arguments.
Older people may only be looking for like-minded communities and other interest groups that they can chill in.
Social media in itself is such a profound and interesting topic that I believe is worth covering in its entirety, from multiple perspectives. There are even studies linking prolonged use of social media to increased feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
Consumerist behaviors are also influenced by social media in more ways than one. Entire industries rely on social media exposure to get their products out there. How can this topic not be important and interesting to talk about?
Are We Obsessed with Social Media or Not?
It’s not debatable that social media can be used for good. Promoting a product, keeping in touch with your friends and family, getting the news, etc.
Apparently, most people (in October 2022) said that they use it to communicate with friends and family. That’s good. Very good, in fact.
But a very large portion of social media users are simply wasting time scrolling through posts and watching dumb TikTok videos that add nothing of value to their lives. It’s purely a waste of potential, simply put.
And social media can become the object of an obsession or addiction if you will. I’ve talked about this in another article. It’s not pseudo-science or something. Literally, social media platforms are constructed to build up addiction in their users.
I don’t believe the concept of an “addiction meter” exists but here I am creating it – the higher an element scores on the addiction meter, the more likely that social media platforms will implement it.
It’s also not unbelievable or incredible, and it’s exactly what you would expect from a company that makes money by monetizing its users. The more users it has, the more money it makes.
Either way, based on the charts I’ve presented today, the situation does look somewhat favorable, meaning that worldwide, we’ve been using social media less and less over time.
I also believe there’s a plateau for social media use. At some point, no matter what elements a platform introduces, it’s not going to be super enticing to users. Innovation can only be as exciting for so long before it’s just another feature in a list of similar features.
Will we stop using social media as much? I hope so. Will I be there to talk about it if and when it happens? You bet I will. Cheers 😀
- Data Reportal – Digital 2022: October Global Statshot Report
- Statista – Number of Smartphone Users in Nigeria from 2014 to 2025