While the rapid growth of Internet users has stabilized in 2024, the social media user numbers are still on an upward trajectory.
According to the GWI Global Social Media Trends Report, social media time has increased by 2% or 3 minutes globally in 2023 since last year. Yet, internet use seems to be down by 20 minutes daily.
This change can be explained by the working adult getting back to the office while social media sites establish themselves as an organic marketing tactic for brands and individuals.
You can get a clearer picture of the average time spent on social media and why from the following report.
How much time do people spend on social media?
The average time an internet user spends on social media per day is 2 hours and 31 minutes worldwide.
These are all average counts out of self-reported numbers. So, there is a good chance the real global social media usage time is more or less by a couple of minutes.
Social media now accounts for 38% of the time people spend online. Considering the rest of the internet time is dedicated to shopping, Netflix, or work, these aren’t rookie numbers.
Social media and general internet use crossover a lot as well. Someone on Facebook could find themselves shopping on Amazon in seconds due to a well-placed ad.
This immersive experience has led to a CAGR of 7.2%.
Social media has certainly taken over traditional broadcast and cable time, as people dedicate 30% more time to it.
How much time will you spend on social media over the years?
An average person spends 839 hours on social media every year. That’s 34 days per year. More than a month, if you will.
If we were to put this into the context of a lifetime, an average person would spend 6 years of their life on social media. Assuming the age they open a Facebook account is 13, and when they give it up, they are 70.
Breaking it down further: you spend 3.1 million minutes of your life on social media.
Of course, in reality, the numbers could be well over 8 to 9 years.
A staggering number of kids use social media long before they turn 13. Children aged 8 to 12 in the US report spending 5 hours and 33 minutes on social media daily.
For teenagers aged 13 to 18, the screen time actually lowers to 4 hours and 44 minutes to 7 hours and 22 minutes, respectively.
Either teenagers lose interest in social media as they get older, or their school workload increases enough to cut off on internet time.
Indeed, Gen-Z have become more aware of their social media time and plan on cutting back on it.
GWI surveyed US social media consumers from the age of 16 to 26.
- 44% want to explore the world more and become financially secure. Both aspirations require allotting less time to scrolling.
- 40% wish to try new things in general. This could range from taking up new challenges in real life and on social media.
- 37% admit to wanting to form a routine and 33% have purposely attempted to limit their social media time.
- 25% claim they are using social media less than the previous year.
Then, we have 20% left who still suffer from FOMO.
Each generation also appears to have a completely different overarching reason for why they use social media.
60% of baby boomers are on social media to be in touch with their friends and family. This is the most prominent reason across all generations.
It is true for 46% of Gen Z, 49% of Millennials, and 55% of Gen X.
The next reason Gen Z seems to be on social media has a lot to do with mindless scrolling, which 42% admit to.
34% also use the time to find articles, memes, videos, and shows. It’s unclear whether it’s because they want to consume the content or find ideas to recreate them.
All generations, more or less, have some interest in keeping up with trends. Other activities, such as following a celebrity or posting about pets, seem to be a low priority but common occurrence among all parties.
Average Time Spent on Social Media By Country
While Asia hosts 50% of the global social media population, it is Nigeria which has the most engaged audience.
An average Nigerian spends 4 hours and 31 minutes on social media daily.
Brazil, which comes in a second, clocks in almost 45 minutes less. Residents spend about 3 hours and 46 minutes in total on all platforms.
South Africa, the Philippines, and Kenya get the 3rd, 4th, and 5th ranking, respectively.
The common ground between the 5 countries? An overwhelming younger population under the age of 30.
Yet, India spends the highest amount of time on social media as opposed to the time each individual spends on the Internet.
44% of India’s online time is dedicated to social media, despite spending only 2 hours and 50 minutes on average.
- Indonesia is a little more conservative with its social media time allocation at 42.9%.
- Mexico ranks third at 41.3%.
- Japan and Korea claim they spend the lowest amount of time on social media at 22.7% and 22.1%.
There is a definite correlation between the average age of a country and the hours people spend on social media.
Countries with a bigger older population may dedicate more time to stock market apps or news apps.
However, some confusion also stems from each country’s definition of social media.
Many East Asian countries don’t consider messenger apps as social media. Any time spent chatting with another person doesn’t appear on the same scale as scrolling TikTok.
Combined with the prominence of their local messenger apps like LINE and KakaoTalk, they may under-report their numbers.
Average Time Spent on Social Media By Gender and Age
Women, on average, spend 12 hours and 11 minutes on social media per month. Men spend about 10 hours and 58 minutes.
For each age group, women seem to edge out men in social media use.
For example, 42.6% of women from age 16 to 24 use dedicate time of their day to social media. The number is 38.7% for men.
Even with the older generation, 35.2% of women aged 45 to 54 years of age are seen on social media. Men are slightly lower, at 33.3%.
However, the older it gets, the more the numbers even out. 31.3% of both men and women in the 55 to 64 age range browse social channels.
If we go by each platform, only two to three social media networks have more men than women.
YouTube is the only video platform with 53.9% male users and 46.1% female users.
Other social platforms with a larger male population are Messenger and WhatsApp, which fall into the realm of messaging + social apps.
These are almost must-use apps. Not apps where you willingly spend part of your day.
As such, a bigger number of male users can be explained by the overall global gender ratio.
Facebook is another app with a bigger male population, with men aged 25 to 34 being the biggest demographic at 17.6%.
The male-to-female ratio is mostly close on Facebook, with women actually engaging more on the platform, even if more men are active users.
The only exception is Twitter, where the ratio of male to female users is overwhelmingly two to five. In other words, 68.1% are men and 31.9% are women.
Again, this might have something to do with Twitter’s popularity in countries like India and Japan. Although, the US has the highest number of Twitter users.
Twitter’s content type – sports and news – particularly attracts the male audience.
It’s also a pretty popular space for music and book fans.
The platform also promotes debates with strangers, similar to Reddit sites. In fact, Reddit has an overlap of 72.4% with Twitter users.
Conversely, women use social media to follow public figures they find interesting, topics they like, and their close friends.
Interacting with strangers is rarely a top priority unless it’s a topic they are passionate about.
All of this seems to account for an engaged male Twitter audience.
By any measure, 55 to 64 spend the least amount of time on social media for each age group. Women spend about 1 hour and 43 minutes, while men browse for 1 hour and 26 minutes.
The most active age group on social media is 16 to 24 year olds. Yes, the age demographic who are also desperately trying to cut down on their social time.
Women in the age range spend 3 hours and 11 minutes online on average. Men clock 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Average time spent on social media By Platform
An average person switches between 6 to 7 social media platforms daily.
If we arrange it by the time spent on each per year, the 7 platforms would be:
The data is a bit different from social media networks with the most active monthly consumers.
Facebook wins over YouTube in that round.
It’s because apps like Facebook don’t require people to open it more than once every day. In comparison, an app like LINE could lead to a long conversation.
It’s also curious how chatting apps like LINE, which is mostly popular in East Asian and South East Asian countries, have way more hours clocked over Messenger.
Snapchat, which has lost much of its popularity throughout the years, is also showing strong numbers.
However, as these data are collected from hours spent on Android devices, we have to assume the numbers would be different if we had iOS data.
Time Spent on TikTok
Byte-sized videos require a low amount of effort to consume. TikTok is the master at churning them out.
On average, a TikTok user spends 31 hours and 14 minutes on the platform per month. It’s close to an entire day.
In a year, it’s 17 days dedicated to TikTok.
As such, TikTok owns the crown of the social media app where people spend the most time.
TikTok’s largest age range is 10 to 19 year olds at 25% in the US – which explains why it logs so many hours.
Younger kids have way more time on their hands to scroll, interact, and share videos with their friends.
The second largest age group is 20 to 29 year olds, with about 22.4% of users.
Globally, 18 to 24 year olds are the most active on TikTok. They make up about 38% of TikTok’s audience.
Surprisingly, TikTok’s largest fans are not in the US or China. Australians spend close to 30 hours per month on the platform.
Even on the lower end of the scale, which would get you South Korea, they still spend 20 hours.
Why is TikTok so addictive?
For one, TikTok doesn’t clutter the app with every feature possible.
Instead, users know they are opening the app for only one purpose- to find short informative or entertaining videos.
Psychologically, you think consuming 15 to 60 seconds videos shouldn’t take much time. This time compounds until you have spent hours on the platform.
The platform has become the main source of news for a large part of Gen Z and Millenials. Concerning to some level, TikTok has also made it easier to spread news which gets suppressed by large publications.
Time Spent on YouTube
On the opposite end of the short viral clips addiction is YouTube.
While YouTube did introduce shorts, users typically open the app to watch videos of at least five minutes in length.
It’s a library of educational content, movies, web series, and life advice. YouTube also holds its fair share of live streams, which are particularly relevant in the gaming community.
YouTube makes for a good lunchtime friend.
And so, a person spends 27 hours and 21 minutes on YouTube per month.
Up until January 2023, the difference in hours spent between YouTube and TikTok was only 20 minutes.
Things became a lot different by the time July 2023 rolled around. TikTok now has over 4 hours more than YouTube from its users.
Considering YouTube is a far more global platform than TikTok, the staggering numbers come mostly from the US and China.
South Korea contributes the highest to YouTube, with users spending 40 hours per month.
Germany spends the lowest amount of time on the platform. On the Android apps, it counts to 11 hours per month.
However, as the European countries have a large number of iOS users, these numbers could be largely misreported.
Time Spent on Facebook
An average user opens Facebook for 3 minutes and 37 seconds for every session. This is Facebook’s retention rate.
In a month, this amounts to 18 hours and 22 minutes.
According to Broadband Search, a person spends 33 minutes on Facebook daily.
While we have had reports of users losing interest in Facebook, there doesn’t seem to be much change in user interaction with the app.
Admittedly, time spent on Facebook has lowered by 1 hour and 21 minutes since last year.
But overall, the platform isn’t at much risk of losing its status as the platform with the highest number of active monthly users.
Time Spent on Whatsapp
WhatsApp is in a tricky position where people don’t think of it as a social media app.
It’s mainly a chatting app, and it connects to your number. So, it feels like using local mobile messages most of the time.
Which is why, despite clocking 16 hours and 38 minutes per month and having more hours than Instagram, the average WhatsApp session is 1 minute and 6 seconds.
How does it clock so many hours, then?
Well, a person opens WhatsApp 23 to 25 times daily.
They either reply to someone, discuss work, or get a glimpse of their friend’s life via the status feature.
Time Spent on Instagram
When you think of a direct competition to TikTok, Instagram comes to mind.
Yet, the total time spent on Instagram is one-quarter of TikTok at 14 hours and 49 minutes.
An average Instagram session lasts 2 minutes and 35 seconds, while a TikTok session lasts 6 minutes and 1 second.
The overlap between Instagram and TikTok users is heavy, too, at 52.4%.
It’s interesting Instagram fails to have the same retention rate as TikTok, even though it was the first platform to introduce a competitor to TikTok with reels.
Most users post the same video they posted on TikTok to Instagram.
Instagram also has a bigger global reach than TikTok, which is banned in India, Canada, and Australia.
Then again, none of these countries make up Instagram’s biggest audience.
Turkey spends the most time on TikTok at 21 hours and 4 minutes per month. South Korea spends the lowest amount of effort on the app, at 6 hours and 10 minutes per month.
Still, Instagram’s failure to win over Tiktok might have a lot to do with the platform revamping its features frequently and losing what made it unique.
It was a photo app, and it seems it is what the users want.
Time Spent on Twitter (X)
Twitter users spent 4 hours and 43 minutes per month on the app in 2023.
The number is 1 hour and 25 minutes lower than at the beginning of the year when it was 5 hours and 28 minutes.
Each session on Twitter is about 2 minutes and 12 seconds.
Of late, users have self-reported they are leaving the platform. It is hard to tell how many followed through.
Mostly, user dissatisfaction comes from the constant rebranding and a slack content regulation system.
Users feel unsafe on the platform.
Still, the largest number of Twitter comes from the US.
90% of the US population is familiar with Twitter.
The app is mostly popular among older users, as only 3% of teens would claim it as their most used app.
For its purpose and niche, the app is doing pretty well.
But it seems to be at risk of losing loyal users, though it’s hard to believe the app would ever go out of style.
Final Thoughts: Time spent on social media 2024
Over the years, social media has become a part of our daily lives. Especially with messaging apps like Whatsapp and LINE, it’s hard to detox from the apps even when we want to.
It has invaded our personal and work life. Psychologists recommend spending only 30 minutes on social media daily to preserve physical and mental health.
But the reality is different if you are a business owner. You have to pick at least 3 of these platforms to spread your business online.
While choosing which platforms to open an account on, go for the ones that mesh well with your product or service.