How Much Time Do People Spend on Social Media in 2021?

Last Updated: September 29, 2021

Jason

Jason

How many people use social media each day? And how much time do they spend on it? The numbers may surprise you. 
How Much Time Do People Spend on Social Media
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How many people use social media each day? And how much time do they spend on it? The numbers may surprise you. 

Social media is everywhere. It’s a convenient tool that allows for networking, media watching, conversing, and running brands. From Facebook to Twitter, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn – social media is heavily integrated into our society.

And you’re probably consuming some form of social media when reading this too. 

But did you know that over 50% of your time on your phone is spent on social media? And that’s just the average of all age groups and classes.

So, how much time do people spend on social media in 2021? And is it dangerous to use? Here are a few key statistics:

Surprising Numbers About How Much Time People Spend on Social Media

  • Daily time spent on social media by an average user was 2 hours and 24 minutes in 2020. That’s higher than in 2017, which was just 2 hours 14 minutes, and in 2012, which was just 1 hour 30 minutes. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic is to blame for that, but similar usage times were reported in 2019 and 2018.
  • Of the time people spend on their mobile phones, as much as 50.1% is consumed when using social media. Of the 7.79 billion people on Earth, 5.19 billion use mobile phones. Of those, 4.57 billion use the internet regularly. And of these, 3.80 billion use social media actively, or about 50.1% of mobile phone users.
  • An average WhatsApp user uses the app up to 25 times in a single day. WhatsApp is the second most used social media platform after Facebook, tying in with YouTube. In 2020, about 65 billion messages were recorded as being sent and received from WhatsApp. And the number increases as we speak. 
  • Gen Zs spend the most time on social media, as much as 4.5 hours daily. In contrast to that, Millennials use social media only 3.8 hours a day. Gen Zs are more likely to follow online celebrities and influencers as well as meme accounts. And Millennials follow hobbyists and people with similar interests.
  • 22% of all Americans use Twitter or have a Twitter account. Twitter is considered as both a social media platform and a news outlet. It is estimated that every second somewhere around 6,000 tweets get posted every second. This means that, on average, 200 billion posts are made every year.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, 29.7% of users reported increasing their average usage time by 1-2 hours. In addition, 20% reported adding 2-3 hours to their daily usage time, and 20.5% added 0.5-1 hours. A few people (1.6%) added 15 minutes or less to their daily time. 

Time Spent on Different Social Media Platforms

Facebook

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Facebook is the most popular social media platform used for networking, chatting, and media watching.

The social behemoth was launched in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and has since grown to be the single largest social media platform. 

Despite dominating most people’s mobile phones, the app has been seeing a decline in usage.

For example, in 2021, US citizens aged 18 and above spent as little as 33 minutes daily on the app. In contrast to that, in 2018, that number was as high as 58 minutes a day.

This mainly has to do with other apps such as Instagram and Snapchat now dominating the social media platforms. However, over 74% of all US adults that use Facebook reported opening the app at least once a day.

In addition to that, 17% reported opening the app weekly, and 12% less frequently than that. 

Facebook appears to be more frequently accessed through mobile devices than from desktops and PCs. 81.8% of all users access the app only through mobile phones, whereas just 1.5% access it only through laptops and desktop computers.

Additionally, only 16.7% of all users access Facebook through both mobile phones and computers.

Instagram

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In recent years, Instagram has taken over the buzz from Facebook. A photo-based social networking platform is gaining popularity. 

In 2018, Instagram had over a billion users all across the world. And in 2021, that number has risen to 1.22 billion.

And the gradual rise of Instagram is evident in the number of people who use it. Over 11.0% of all people who use the internet regularly have an Instagram account.

Additionally, the average time a user spends on Instagram has increased to up to 30 minutes. In contrast to that, in just 2019, the usage was hardly 15 minutes.

And the number is growing rapidly. But that’s just the adults. 

In January of 2019, Instagram stories were being used by over 500 million users. That same number was as low as 100 million in 2016.

This shows that not only is Instagram as a whole seeing a major rise in usage, but certain features are becoming more popular over time. 

Moreover, it is estimated that over 63% of Instagram users open and use the app at least once a day. And over 42% use it more frequently.

YouTube

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YouTube is at the forefront of video streaming. Unlike movie streaming services, YouTube primarily hosts videos created by content creators.

The content of these videos can range anywhere from comedic to educational and even investigative. 

And nearly 1 billion hours of videos are being watched by users each day. So it’s no surprise that 46.7% of users use the app monthly. 

The average time people spend daily watching videos on YouTube is estimated to be about 41.9 minutes. And this is across all platforms, including mobile and connected TV.

But most people (specifically 1.8 billion YouTube users) prefer to watch videos on their mobile devices. That’s probably the reason that over 70% of all YouTube views are from people who watch the video on mobile.

Furthermore, it is estimated that over 79% of all people who actively use the internet also own a registered YouTube account. Additionally, 86% of internet users use the site daily.

This is the highest active-to-inactive user ratio out of any other social media platform.

And more and more people are ditching traditional streaming for this platform. It is estimated that YouTube is accessed by more 18–49-year-old people than traditional cable TV, even on mobile phones. 

WhatsApp

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WhatsApp is most social media users’ primary method of chatting. It lets users connect and converse about various topics, all for free.

And the chat is end-to-end encrypted to prevent interception and to keep your data secure. 

As of 2021, statistics estimate the total number of WhatsApp users to be about 2 billion. That number is incredibly high for instant messaging services. 

In addition to that, the total user base has increased since 2016, from 18.8 million to 74 million in 2020. This is quite easy to grasp, given that WhatsApp is the most popular messaging service, right next to Messenger. 

Rough estimates put the number of messages sent and received daily to be about 100 billion. Additionally, over 2 billion minutes are spent each day engaging on WhatsApp calls. 

In America alone, 50% of WhatsApp users access the app daily. 78% of all US WhatsApp users use the app weekly. And over 91% use it less frequently, about once or twice a month.

This is backed by the fact that almost 25% of all Americans use or have used WhatsApp in the past. 

These numbers are not surprising, considering that WhatsApp is the most used instant messaging app globally. And in the US alone, it is used by over 68.1 million US citizens.

Twitter

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Twitter is another social networking app, though it has now primarily become a source of information and news. The app is used not only by average users but also by celebrities and politicians to make statements and update the public about current events. 

As such, it’s no surprise that Twitter’s most numerous consumers are 24-35-year-olds. It’s estimated that 22% of all Americans have a Twitter account. And the number keeps growing.

But it’s not just the adults. 3% of teenagers reported Twitter as being their most-used social media platform. That’s right, even more than Facebook and Instagram.

Despite this, the average daily session time on Twitter for all users is only 3 minutes and 39 seconds.

This is mainly because most users only come online to read or post tweets. In fact, over 6000 tweets get posted every second on Twitter, bringing the annual total to 200 billion tweets.

Most of these tweets are either educational, informative, or simply made for comedic purposes. Some of these tweets are also used for media watching, including photos and videos.

But not all users post tweets, or at least not as frequently. Research has found that only the top 10% of US Twitter users contribute to over 92% of US tweets. Now you can see why influencers and politicians use the platform.

Snapchat

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Although considered a social media app much like Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat’s concept is out there. Instead of having users make text posts or even media posts, Snapchat allows them to send photos or videos to each other directly.

This means that the platform is solely based on media. And most media posted to Snapchat does not last more than 24 hours. 

In 2021, the average time spent on Snapchat was as low as 28 minutes. This mainly has to do with most people opening Snapchat to take a few selfies and send them to their friends.

However, some studies suggest that people spend more time on Snapchat than 49 minutes.

Gen Zs and Millennials primarily dominate Snapchat. Over 73% of Snapchat users are between the ages of 18 and 24. 

Additionally, 46% of all Snapchat users visit the app several times a day. However, 15% visit only once a day, and 39% visit it even less frequently.

Strangely enough, Snapchat has a major discrepancy between the genders of the users that use its features. Specifically, 57.4% of the user base is female, whereas 40.9% is male.

Another research showed that, along with other apps, Snapchat is also used when on the move. In fact, Snapchat is the most used social media app when on the go, commuting, and traveling.

This is due to its primary use as a photo and video shooting and editing software.

Countries With the Most Social Media Usage

Social media is used worldwide by over 3.80 billion people. But which country leads the way in terms of social media usage? Here’s the rundown:

Longest social media Daily Usage Time

  • Philippines – 3 hours 53 minutes.
  • Brazil – 3 hours 46 minutes.
  • Columbia and Nigeria – 3 hours 36 minutes.
  • Argentina – 3 hours and 27 minutes. 

Highest Social Media Penetration (Users Vs. Non-Users Ratio)

  • UAE – 99%
  • South Korea – 89.3%
  • Taiwan – 88.1%
  • Netherlands – 88%
  • Malaysia 86%

Highest Number of Internet Users by Region

  • Eastern Asia – 1 billion+.
  • Southeast Asia – 482.73 million. 
  • Southern Asia – 470.01 million. 
  • Northern America – 329.25 million. 
  • South America – 274.22 million. 
  • Central Africa – 12.38 million.
  • Central Asia – 13.93 million.

How Social Media Is Transforming The Retail Market

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Social media isn’t only about posting pictures and networking. A lot of small and even big companies are using the platforms as a means of advertisement and retail purchase. 

It is estimated that 42% of all internet users already do independent product and brand research on social media. If people are already looking towards social media for product information, why not use it as a marketing strategy?

And that’s exactly what companies are now doing. They are using social media to market their products and communicate with the customer, and confirm orders.

V12 Data found that over 90% of all customers that contacted a brand did so on social media. 

Despite this, more than 73% of all users who contacted brands through social media were disappointed with the results. This has to do with either bad customer service or a lack of response entirely. 

If retailers do respond, however, then they’re in luck because 65% of customers that talk to brands are more likely to stay loyal if the conversation goes well.

The online market is taking advantage of the global pandemic, where the world is being transformed by a global pandemic. Companies and small-scale creators are more than benefiting from social media as a marketing tool. 

Social Media Usage and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has played a vital role in shaping how we use social media daily. It is estimated that over 29.7% of Americans increased their social media consumption by 1-2 hours during the pandemic.

Most of the app used during this time included Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Additionally, LinkedIn also saw an increase in usage since many people were resorting to online job applications.

However, if any social media app saw a significant increase in usage, then it was TikTok. 

Through the lockdown, of the few people that switched to a new app, 33% of people chose TikTok. TikTok has caught the eyes of many users as it’s a great way to make short videos that are akin to Vine.

This app has served as a major source of entertainment for people dying of the pandemic.

Additionally, when asked about their usage habits, 72% of participants reported increasing consumption. Besides that, 42% also believed that they posted more frequently on their social media apps.

They did this either out of boredom or as a way to communicate with their followers.

Moreover, respondents to the same survey believe that their feed became an “information overload.” And 86% of all US participants felt that the tone on social media had shifted quite a bit towards social and political issues.

Evidently, the pandemic has influenced the average consumption of information through social media. And the daily social media usage is estimated to increase the longer we stay in lockdown.

Dangers of Excessive Social Media Usage

Although social media may seem harmless and at times entertaining, there are some dangers to excessive social media usage. The dangers are related to anxiety, stress, depression, and feelings of loneliness. 

A 2015 study found that most of the 1800 people surveyed felt that social media was stress-inducing. They particularly pointed out Twitter as a major source of stress in their daily lives.

Additionally, women seemed to be more subject to social media stress due to unrealistic standards set on the apps. 

Additionally, a study has found that generalized anxiety is also linked to social media usage. And that users may feel left out, worried, and sleepless over social media apps.

Besides that, a 2019 survey found that 67% of US citizens believed that social media led to loneliness and Fear of Missing Out. 

Social media is also known to encourage the youth to spend on unnecessary commodities. Over 49% of millennials who use social media reported that they often overspent because of this. 

Moreover, social media has been linked to feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Oftentimes, it is not the content but rather the pace of the content posting that can stress people out.

Those who must maintain good PR for their brands on social media may get more stressed. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, the statistics seem pretty much in favor of social media. Most people in the world use social media, especially in developing and developed countries.

Being a convenient tool that lets you network and interacts with others, social media has risen for many years. 

Limiting your time on social media is important. While it does serve as a crucial source of information and entertainment, social media can lead to mental health issues and stress.

And prolonged use may cause addiction as well as anxiety induced by unrealistic standards and political posts. 

These statistics do a lot to show just how much social media surrounds us and how well-integrated it is into our lives!

Written by Jason

Hi! I’m the editor at EarthWeb. I have a deep interest in technology and business. I also enjoy testing products out. Contact me to be featured!

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