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Following the boost gained during the pandemic and with the evolution of social networks, internet consumption habits worldwide continue to solidify and reach an ever-growing number of people.

This is one of the main conclusions of the Digital Report 2024, the latest edition of the annual study conducted by We Are Social, which is one of the essential references for analyzing the reality of the digital sector in areas such as eCommerce, apps, or social networks.

There are 97 million new internet users in the world.

The report indicates that the number of internet users worldwide reached 5,350 million people, representing 66.2% of the world’s population. The number of internet users increased by 97 million people, a 1.8% increase compared to 2023.

Regarding internet users on mobile devices, in January 2024, they reached 69.4% of the population (compared to 68% in 2023), which is 5,610 million people, representing a 2.5% year-on-year increase. For more context on this figure, there has been an increase of 138 million users in the last 12 months.

Internet users worldwide by regions and countries

Despite the growth in internet use, there are regions in the world where the population is almost entirely connected, while others still show slower penetration.

The country with more internet users Breaking down these figures further, the ranking of countries with the highest internet penetration is led by the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Ireland, and Denmark, with 99%. They are followed by Switzerland (98.1%), the United Kingdom (97.8%), Malaysia (97.4%), and South Korea (97.2%).

However, The Netherlands does not have the highest number of internet users in absolute terms because it is a relatively small country in terms of population. They have a high internet penetration rate relative to their population, which means that a large proportion of their population has access to the internet. China and India are two of the countries with the highest absolute number of internet users due to their large populations.

In 2024, Spain rises two positions to 12th place, with 96% internet penetration, 1.1% more than in the previous edition. On the other hand, countries with lower internet penetration are India (52.4%), Nigeria (45.5%), and Kenya (40.8%), which do not reach the global penetration average, located at 66.2%.

According to the latest report, the region with the highest internet penetration currently remains Northern Europe (97.6%), but the second place now goes to North America (96.8%), a position held by Western Europe (92%) in 2023. They are followed by Southern Europe (94.5%) and Eastern Europe (90.2%). On the other hand, as in 2023, the regions with the lowest internet penetration are Central Africa (32.1%) and East Africa (26.7%).

Evolution of the number of internet users

This is a remarkable evolution when examining the number of internet users over the past four decades. By the year 2000, the number of internet users worldwide was only 396 million, a figure that grew exponentially until 2024, as shown in the following chart:

We spend more time connected to the internet

And of course, over these years, the time and usage we dedicate to the internet have evolved. In 2013, the average time that internet users spent browsing the World Wide Web was 6 hours and 09 minutes, a time that has gradually increased, with a significant jump in 2020, with a 4.2% increase (6 hours and 58 minutes). However, this time decreased by 5.1% in 2022 compared to the previous year.

For the latest calculation, We Are Social has changed the measurement methodology, so we cannot compare the data with previous years. Nevertheless, we can say that, according to the new calculations, in 2024, we have spent an average of 6 hours and 40 minutes browsing the web

When segmenting internet usage by countries, South Africans spend the most time browsing, with an average of 9 hours and 24 minutes, followed by Brazil (9 hours and 13 minutes) and the Philippines (8 hours and 52 minutes). Overall, in all countries, the time spent online has decreased compared to the previous year.

Obtaining information is the primary reason for internet usage worldwide

This time, the study provides us with a detailed chart showing the main reasons for internet usage around the world. Finding information is the top reason, accounting for 60.9% of the total (compared to 57.8% in 2022), followed by staying in touch with friends and family (56.6%) and watching videos, shows, and movies (52.3%), a category that was previously occupied by the need to stay up to date with events and news (51.9%).

Other reasons for using the internet include researching how to do things (49.4%) and finding inspiration or new ideas (46.1%).

Bonus: what happened last year?

According to the Digital 2023 report, the number of internet users was 5.16 billion people, representing 64.4% of the world’s population. The number of internet users increased by 1.9% compared to 2022 (98 million people), at a somewhat slower pace than in previous years.

In 2023, the two regions with the highest internet penetration were 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 were Central Africa (27.9%) and East Africa (23.1%).

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