Following the surge during the pandemic, internet consumption habits continue to solidify and reach an increasingly larger number of people. This is one of the main conclusions of The Digital 2023 study carried out by WeAreSocial and Meltwater, which is one of the essential references for analyzing the reality of the digital sector in areas such as ecommerce, apps, or social networks.

Internet users in the world increase by 1.9%

In the 2023 edition, the report indicates that the number of Internet users in the world reached 5.160 billion people, which represents 64.4% of the world population. The number of Internet users increased by 1.9% compared to 2022, by 98 million people, a slightly lower rate than in previous years.

Regarding Internet users on mobile devices, in January 2023 they reached 68% of the population, that is, 5,440 billion people, which represents an increase of 3.2% year-on-year, and to have more context on this figure, an increase of 168 million users in the last 12 months.

Internet users in the world by region and country

Of course, despite the growth in Internet use, there are areas in the world where its population is almost entirely connected, while some others still show slower penetration.

Putting these figures in more detail, in the ranking of countries with the highest Internet penetration, the United Arab Emirates (99%) and Ireland (99%) continue to lead, which share leadership with Norway and Saudi Arabia. They are followed by Switzerland (98.54%) and Denmark (98.1%).

On the other hand, the countries with the lowest Internet penetration are South Sudan and Somalia (both with less than 10% of the population connected) and North Korea, for which there are no data.

According to the latest report, the two regions with the highest internet penetration today are Northern Europe (97.4%) and Western Europe (93.5%), followed by North America (92%). On the other hand, the regions with the lowest internet penetration are Central Africa (27.9%) and Eastern Africa (23.1%).

Evolution of the number of internet users

This is a surprising evolution when reviewing the number of internet users throughout the last four decades. By the year 2000, the number of internet users around the planet was only 396 million, a figure that doubled three years later (761 million, 2003). Growth was exponential until 2021, and since then the curve has flattened noticeably.

We spend less time online

And of course, during these years the time and use that we give to the Internet has evolved: in 2013 the average number of hours that Internet users used to browse the network of networks was 6 hours and 09 minutes, a time that has gradually increased presenting a great leap in 2020 with an increase of 4% reaching 6 hours and 54 minutes, of course this due to confinement, teleworking and the need to communicate through the internet. In January 2022, our navigation time had increased by 1%, reaching 6 hours and 58 minutes, but this last year it has been reduced (-4.8%), once post-pandemic life has begun to recover the scope of the face-to-face.

When segmenting Internet use by country, South Africans spend the most time browsing with an average of 09:38 hours, followed by Brazil (09:32) and the Philippines (09:14). In general, in all countries the time connected has been reduced compared to the previous year.

Obtaining information is the biggest reason for using the internet in the world

On this occasion, the study shows us a detailed graph on the main reasons for Internet use in the world. Thus, finding information is the main cause with 57.8% of the total, followed by keeping in touch with friends and family (53.7%), and keeping up with events and news (50.9%).

Other reasons for using the internet in 2022 are watching videos, shows and movies (49.7%), researching how to do things (47.6%) and finding inspiration or new ideas (44.3%).

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