Social media allows us to connect and share information globally, meaning we can communicate with loved ones more efficiently, make new friends and stay in touch better than ever. It also plays a crucial role in shaping public opinion, promoting businesses, and providing a platform for self-expression and creativity. Social media began to take shape in the late 1990s and early 2000s with sites that allowed users to create profiles and connect with others online. However, it was the launch of Myspace in 2003, then Facebook in 2004, which marked the beginning of the modern era of social media. Since then, it’s only continued to grow, with around 2.7 billion monthly active users (as of late 2022). People have spent more and more time on social media since, particularly in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend where people were at home during lockdowns and using social media to connect with others, stay informed, and keep themselves entertained. But even post-pandemic, this trend of increased usage is expected to continue in the future as well. Read on to find out more.
As of July 2022, the average daily usage is 2 hours and 27 minutes. This information was collected by Datareportal, with the full report containing a vast amount of insight collated from different data providers across 200+ slides. It provides country-specific data for the vast majority of the world. This is useful since social media usage and average time spent vary depending on age, location, and platform. Social media has been designed to be addictive; the nature of scrolling and accessing snippets of new information has been shown to deliver minor hits of dopamine to the brain, which keeps you on the site.
The changes might look small from year to year, but if we compare the difference between 2012 and 2022, we can see a significant jump in just one decade.
People tend to spend more time on some platforms than others, which we can see from the following stats:
Tiktok: 45.8 minutes per day
Youtube: 45.6 minutes per day
Twitter: 34.8 minutes per day
Snapchat: 30.4 minutes per day
Facebook: 30.1 minutes per day
Instagram 30.1 minutes per day
Reddit: 23.8 minutes per day
Tiktok and Youtube, both video-based social media platforms, managed to keep people hooked for longer, being the two that people tended to spend the most minutes on each day. Video social media is addictive for various reasons, including the ability to quickly and easily consume large amounts of content, the use of algorithms that tailor content to a user’s interests, and the use of notifications and other tactics to keep users engaged. Additionally, the use of video can be more engaging and immersive than text or still images, making it more likely that users will continue to use the platform for more extended periods. Social media platforms also use variable rewards, where the user is not sure what they will get next, making them more likely to keep using the platforms.
Most social media is taken in via mobile and apps. This is partly because it was designed to be this way; social media giants like Twitter, for example, developed their sites with mobile users in mind. (source)
80% of global internet users access social media through mobile devices (source)
Social media can be used for a plethora of things. Some of the common reasons people tap on their social media apps include the following:
Social media can be a handy tool and be used for a wide range of things. Each of us will have different motivations and reasons for using social media. Still, there tends to be something about it that will appeal to most people, which is why it’s such a popular online activity.
Overall, our time spent on social media is increasing year-on-year, most likely due to technological developments such as better mobile phones and tablets. In recent decades, the number of people owning mobile phones and accessing the internet has also increased, which will help social sites grow further. And because of the clever marketing and psychological strategies that the social media giants use to keep us hooked. However, as a tool in general, it can be fantastic for everything from work to play, keep an eye on your social media usage and ensure that you’re not substituting time online for a time in person that could be used to make connections with clients or loved ones in person.