10 Screen Time Statistics for a Healthier Digital Life

Updated on March 20, 2024
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Andrea Mercado
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Screen time statistics

Phones, tablets, and computers are part of our daily lives, but we often don't realize how much time we spend on them.

Nowadays, there are growing concerns, especially about kids, as too much screen time can affect their school performance and emotions. But how do people across the globe use these devices, from watching TV to using social media? 

If you want a healthier internet experience, keep reading for 10 screen time statistics to find the right balance.

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Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Countries that spend the most and the least in front of screens

1. South Africa tops global screen time

A recent study by ElectronicsHub examined screen time habits in 45 countries, shedding light on how much time people spend in front of screens during their waking hours.

The study, published in 2022's Q2, showed that South Africa emerged as the front-runner, with its residents dedicating a substantial 58.2% of their waking hours to screens, equivalent to about 9.5 hours.

In the second position, we find Brazil, with citizens spending approximately 9 hours and 32 minutes online daily. 

The Philippines, Argentina, Colombia, and Chile followed in terms of screen time.

2. The Philippines leads global smartphone usage

In 2023, the global smartphone craze reached an all-time high, with over six billion devices worldwide, as Statista reported. 

However, the spotlight falls on the Philippines, where people elevate smartphone usage to the next level, spending almost one-third of their day (32.5%) immersed in their phones, making them the most active smartphone users on the planet.

Brazil follows closely behind at 32.46%, South Africa secures the third spot at 31.52%, and Thailand is close back with 30.48% of their day dedicated to their beloved smartphones.

3. Japan has the lowest screen time

In the same previous study, ElectronicsHub revealed that Americans spend an average of 7.5 hours, or 42.58% of their daily hours, in front of screens. 

On the other hand, European countries had an average screen time of about 6 hours, accounting for 35% of their day.

Japan, often associated with tech-savviness, ranked surprisingly low, with its residents dedicating just 21.7% of their daily hours, approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes, to screens.

4. On average, the world's social media users spend 2.5 hours of their days scrolling through these platforms

The daily average time spent by global social media users has subtly increased after the pandemic.

DataReportal reveals that these users now spend an average of 2.5 hours scrolling through these platforms, which indicates a minor uptick of about three extra minutes spent on these apps in a year.

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Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash

An overview of global web connectivity

5. 64% of people are actively online worldwide

Today, the Internet is an integral part of our lives, with 64% of the global population actively online, according to DataReportal. This percentage is significant considering the global population of approximately 8.01 billion people. 

Now, how "too much" screen time is still in debate; however, some experts highlight the importance of focusing on the quality of the content we engage with rather than just the quantity of time spent online.

6. There are 253.3 million mobile phone users in the U.S.

As the world emerged from pandemic lockdowns, studies have noticed a trend in how adults interact with mobile phones worldwide: mobile phone usage is on the rise. 

In the case of the U.S., in 2021, there were 248.0 million mobile phone users, which grew to 250.7 million in 2022 and is now at 253.3 million in 2023, as Insider Intelligence reported.

7. China claims to have 24 million “Internet addicts”

By 2022, China had around 200 million individuals under 18 connected to the Internet. However, an estimated 24 million were categorized as “Internet addicts.” 

Beijing announced implementing stringent measures to address this growing concern by curtailing internet access from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and imposing daily limits based on the users' ages. 

This move to restrict screen time underscores China's persistent efforts to manage the digital habits of its youth.

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Photo by Afif Ramdhasuma on Unsplash

Activities that accumulate more screen time

8. 59% of the population is engaged in social media 

Social media has evolved into an integral part of our lives. DataReportal's study reveals that approximately 59% of the world's population is now actively engaged in social media. 

Yet, the spotlight falls on South Africa, where social media users take the lead, dedicating 22.5% of their daily routine to scrolling through these apps. 

Brazil and the Philippines closely follow, at 22.37% and 21.91%, respectively, making it a global trend in these nations. 

In contrast, Japan has the lowest average time spent on social media, with just 4.92% of their day, equivalent to 51 minutes on average.

9. South Africa tops global computer usage, spending 26.69% of the day online 

In 2023, computers continue to play a significant role in our daily lives. However, screen time habits vary globally, and as reported by PCMag, South Africa is leading the way again, where residents spend 26.69% of their day in front of computer screens. 

Russia closely follows at 25.67%, and Colombia secures the third spot at 24.68%.

10. Saudi Arabia leads the world in gaming hours, averaging 2 hours a day

Regarding gaming hours, Saudi Arabia takes the crown with 11.47% of their day, translating to about 2 hours on average. 

But the fever isn't exclusive to Saudi Arabia alone; according to PCMag, Thailand, at 10.3%, and India, at 9.91%, boast their own vibrant gaming communities.

Surprisingly, Japan, renowned for creating iconic characters like Mario, spends the least time gaming, with just 2.51% or 26 minutes daily. 

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Summary: Screen Time Statistics

1. South Africa tops global screen time

2. The Philippines leads global smartphone usage

3. Japan has the lowest screen time

4. On average, the world's social media users spend 2.5 hours of their days scrolling through these platforms

5. 64% of people are actively online worldwide

6. There are 253.3 million mobile phone users in the U.S.

7. China claims to have 24 million “Internet addicts”

8. 59% of the population is engaged in social media

9. South Africa tops global computer usage, spending 26.69% of the day online

10. Saudi Arabia leads the world in gaming hours, averaging 2 hours a day

Final Thoughts:

Our world is more interconnected than ever, with 64% of the global population actively engaged online. Yet, the extent of screen time varies widely around the globe, with South Africa topping the charts at 58.2%, while Japan records the lowest at 21.7%.

Today, the debate around "too much" screen time continues, with experts emphasizing the need to prioritize the quality of online content over quantity. 

Whether you're a parent juggling numerous responsibilities or a young adult navigating a fast-paced world, it's all about finding the right balance. So, embrace the screens in your daily routine, but do it in a way that genuinely adds to a fulfilling life.

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

FAQ

Is there any link between screen time and early developmental challenges in children?

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association of Pediatrics explored the link between increased screen time and early developmental challenges in children. 

While the study did not claim that screens directly caused developmental delays, it did identify an association between increased screen exposure and some motor and social skills challenges in babies.

Most of the children in the study had less than two hours of screen time per day. Only 4% of the babies had four or more hours of screen time, while 18% had between two and less than four hours of screen time per day.

The report involving nearly 8,000 Japanese parents found that 1-year-olds exposed to more screen time than their peers tended to experience developmental delays in fine motor skills and personal and social abilities by age 2.

Experts emphasize the importance of face-to-face interaction and spending time with real people in children's early development.

What should individuals consider when managing their screen time?

While the World Health Organization provides clear guidelines for children's screen time, experts have varying opinions regarding adults.

Yalda T. Uhls, a psychology professor at UCLA, suggests that the focus should shift from the quantity of screen time to the quality of the online content consumed.

What tools are available for reducing screen time on smartphones and tablets?

Both Google and Apple offer free tools within their mobile operating systems to help users manage and limit screen time on smartphones and tablets. 

Apple's iOS includes a tool called "Screen Time" to set limits on how much time you spend on the device. Following Apple's instructions, you can activate this feature within the iPhone's settings app.

For Android devices, you can use "Family Link," an app available through the Google Play Store. This software lets Parents set up and monitor their child's Google account.

Sources

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Andrea Mercado is a tech-focused journalist and copywriter with over 5 years of experience covering innovation, edtech, AI, and internet trends across media outlets. She is passionate about how technology can democratize access to education and is an avid learner when it comes to emerging tech like AI. Her articles and webinars help readers stay informed on the latest tech developments.
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