Updated · May 28, 2023
Screen dependence during the COVID-19 pandemic was at an all-time high. According to Frontiers, there has been a 50-70% increase in screen time. As a result, it became more apparent how digital life contributes to increased anxiety, sad mood, irritability, and aggression.
Spending most of the waking hours in front of a screen leaves less room for other activities, thus compromising a person’s overall well-being. Instead of having a variety of physical and social activities, excessive screen time can easily lead to a sedentary lifestyle.
Let's look at the screen time statistics for 2023 to understand this point.
In 2021, people spent more time on the internet than watching TV, according to media use statistics. Globally, people spend twice as much time online than watching TV. This can be attributed to the rise of social media platforms and streaming applications such as Netflix and YouTube.
To learn more about how these contributed to screen times, Here are some statistics regarding daily average screen times:
The daily average time spent on the internet is almost close to the amount of sleep time an adult has. In 2021, the average was 6 hours and 57 minutes, but it dropped to 6 hours and 37 minutes in Q3 2022. The return to pre-pandemic activities likely lessened the screen time by only 20 minutes.
Since 2016, the average time spent on social media is 2 hours. When the pandemic restrictions had eased, widespread mobile use had also decreased. However, this is not the case for social media, as it still increased by 3 minutes since 2021.
YouTube, Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, and TikTok are the five leading social media platforms, with 12 to 23 hours of monthly usage per user.
South Africa ranked first as the most hyperconnected country. They spend nearly 10 hours daily online. Due to the increasing internet penetration across Africa, there is broader access to the internet. Moreover, South Africa's internet stability and affordability are among the best in the continent.
Among the 45 countries surveyed, Japan had the least daily screen time. They're only averaging at 3 hours and 45 minutes. Denmark had the lowest time at 4 hours 58 minutes among European countries.
Around 60% of working-age internet users go online mainly to search for information. Connection to family and friends is leading second, according to 53.7% of users. Hence, the massive traffic on social media apps. Other reasons include keeping up with the news and watching TV shows, videos, or movies.
The average American spends 6 hours and 59 minutes browsing the internet on their devices. It is slightly above the global average but tied with Singapore's daily average.
Among the popular type of apps and websites visited by users are shopping and classified ads. Because of that, e-commerce, such as Amazon and eBay, remains a booming industry even after the pandemic restrictions have eased.
Spending hours on screen and online can be justifiable. For instance, if it's work-related, device use could take up at least 8 hours daily. However, 41% of surveyed U.S. adults have difficulty managing device usage. This is especially true for modern-day parenting, where young children develop early dependence on mobile devices.
In this section, we'll look at screen time habits by age.
Generation Z (those born in 1997-2012) spends the most average screen time among other generations. For average American teenagers, screen time is split into video watching, playing video games, and social media browsing.
Although Gen Z is considered the digital natives, the excessive amount spent on the screen is a serious problem that has negatively impacted health.
It has become quite common to let young children watch television. A survey by Pew Research reveals that 88% of parents say their child interacts or uses TV. At the same time, 67% of parents allow their children to interact or use a tablet computer.
These statistics reflect why Baby Shark and other children's shows are famous on video streaming platforms.
Another common trend with kids nowadays is getting their own devices at a young age. 78% of parents say that the primary purpose they give smartphones to their kids is for communication. This data is not surprising, given that we are in the age of hyperconnection.
(Common Sense Media)
Tweens between 8-12 years old say watching online videos is their favorite media activity. The same is true for 62% of teens aged 13-18. The study also showed that teens and tweens would choose YouTube over other social media platforms.
One of the contributing factors to screen time use and its prevalence is the devices. Most smartphones and phone applications have built-in screen time controls. This lets the user and the app know the average screen time.
In this section, we will look at the most time people spend on their mobile phones and desktops. By examining these statistics, we can see the growing difference between device use.
South Africans have the highest desktop screen time daily. Russians come in second, spending an average of 4 hours and 17 minutes on their computer screen daily.
According to a recent survey, the global average desktop screen time has been reduced by 23 minutes since 2022. It was previously at 3 hours and 14 minutes but has dropped to 2 hours and 51 minutes.
Filipinos average 5 hours and 31 minutes daily using their mobile phones. Brazilian users closely follow, averaging 5 hours and 28 minutes. However, there has been a global decrease in screen time, with an average reduction of 20 minutes. The Philippines had a big cutdown, too, with a 1 hour 13 minutes average decrease.
Prolonged screen time has more effects other than an obsessive mobile phone and screen dependence. It is also linked to several health problems, such as eye strain, headaches, neck and body pain, sleep disorders, anxiety, and social isolation. Although many essential activities require gadgets, excessive use can be detrimental, especially for young adults and children.
As the world returns to normal after the pandemic, there has been a reduction in screen time consumption. However, spreading awareness of the effects of excessive screen time and promoting a healthy and balanced lifestyle is still beneficial.
Experts recommend no screen time for children under 2, one hour for those 2-12, and two hours for teens and adults.
Set a screen time limit and stick to it. Also, take frequent breaks between screen use and engage in physical activities.
Many smartphones and other devices have built-in screen time tracking features. Apple’s Screen Time and Google’s Digital Wellbeing are the famous ones.
Social media apps like Instagram also have a feature that will notify you when you go beyond the desired daily limit.
Munni is also an ardent student of human-computer interfaces and user experience design. He makes the vital connections between technology and the end user. He always finds the ultimate way to tell the story of software, to highlight its strengths and weaknesses in an accessible way. He often contemplates the dynamic relationship between humanity and technology over a pint of lager, while enjoying some classy classical rock.
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