How much have we been online recently? Has there been an increased use of
electronic devices? Which countries are more connected in a “virtual
This year We Are Social, in collaboration with Hootsuite,
came out with a Report
on the digital behaviors of users globally.
We would first like to point out the increase in the world population over
the last year, which has grown by 1%.
There are currently 7.83 billion people on the planet (compared to 7.75
billion last year). Of these, 56.4% are urbanized (compared to 55% last
Internet Use Has Grown
Internet use, affected by the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic, continues to rise,
increasing by 7.3% from January 2020 to January 2021.The number of people
using social networks increased 13.2% globally, totaling 490 million new
This growth was seen all around the world, with a minimum of +1% in
countries where the Internet was already widely used (such as Northern
Europe), while the phenomenon had a higher growth in developing countries.
In Southeast Asia, for example, there was a peak of +9.6%.
However, African countries were most affected, with a growth of +17.2% in
western countries and +21.3% in central countries.
The smartphone: the most-used device
As the report shows, most users have the same preferred tool as last year:
In fact, of people ages 15-64 who own their own device, 97.1% have a cell
phone (of which, a whopping 96.6% are smartphones). The desktop computer
takes second place with 64.4%, followed by the tablet at 34.3%.
How many hours do we spend on electronic devices?
The average time spent daily online is 6 hours and 54 minutes (compared to
6 hours and 43 minutes last year).
We spend an average of 3 hours and 24 minutes watching TV, 2 hours and 25
minutes on social networks, 2 hours and 2 minutes reading the news, 2 hours
and 31 minutes listening to music or the radio, and 1 hour and 12 minutes
playing video games.
It should be noted that the time spent using a mobile device (tablet or
smartphone) has risen by 20% compared to the year prior. Of the time spent
using one of these devices, 44% of that time is spent on apps designed to
connect us with others, 26% for pure enjoyment of content (such as watching
videos or listening to music), 9% on recreational apps, and the remaining
21% on other apps.
Social media networks are, therefore, confirmed to be the main
Just as it was last year, the United Arab Emirates is the most active
country in terms of social media, while Nigeria is still in last place.
Which social networks are used most?
The potential Facebook audience amounts to 2.18 billion people, holding its
place as the world’s most popular social network. The number of monthly
users who are consistently active has grown by 12% in 2020 and those who
use it the most are between 25 and 34 years old. 98.8% of users access it
through a smartphone.
The most used social messaging tool used to get in touch with people is
Whatsapp, which has 2 billion users worldwide.
The use of Instagram is growing (also in terms of business), for a
potential audience of 1.22 billion people. Those who use it the most are
between 25 and 30 years old (at 33%), with the youngest age group, 18-24
years old, coming in second (at 29.8%). The number of followers increased
by 1.68% compared to last year.
YouTube remains a widely popular platform (it has a user base of two
billion people), but, compared to other social networks, it shows an
imbalance in its use according to gender: men, in fact, use it more than
Another tool growing in popularity is LinkedIn, with a user base of 727.6
million people, followed by Snapchat (498.2 million users) and Twitter
What does the increase in the use of social networks imply?
As we pointed out last year, the increase in the use of social networks, on
the one hand, leads to both physical and mental laziness, while on the
other hand, it reduces individuals’ ability to communicate directly and
“authentically” with each other: we prefer dialogue through messaging,
rather than face-to-face.
Additionally, the dangers related to privacy are increasing, since we use
social networks spontaneously and carelessly, almost without realizing that
what goes on the Internet will remain there forever.
However, this trend, which in some ways is worrying, should be seen this
year in the context of a global health crisis that has not allowed human
relationships to take place easily “in person.”
In the midst of a gradual improvement – while we await for a definitive
exit from the crises generated by the pandemic – it would be nice if each
of us tried to enthusiastically look for the essence of real life, in which
we feel so many emotions that cannot be replicated on social media.