Ever wondered whether your screen time is above average? This guide takes a look at how much time Americans spend in front of a screen compared to the rest of the world.
Worldwide, the average person spends a total of 6 hours and 37 minutes looking at a screen each day (for internet-connected activities). This includes 2 hours and 31 minutes scrolling through social media channels,1 hour and 38 minutes of streaming music, and 1 hour and 12 minutes of listening to podcasts. And the majority of this (3 hours and 46 minutes) is spent on mobiles.
But how does this worldwide average compare to the United States and other countries around the world?
Find out below.
The average American spends 7 hours looking at a screen each day
According to data from DataReportal, the average American spends 6 hours and 59 minutes looking at a screen every day. This is slightly above average and over 1 hour longer than the British who average 5 hours and 47 minutes of screen time per day. But it is nearly four hours less than the biggest screen-time consumers, South Africans, who average around 9 hours and 38 minutes a day.
On the whole, the biggest screen-time consumers are located in Africa, Asia, and South America.
Which countries are spending the most time on their desktops and mobiles?
How do the top figures change when we look at desktop and mobile use?
The biggest desktop screen time consumers are South Africans who average 4 hours and 25 minutes of screen time on their computers every day. However, this dropped significantly from 2022 by 1 hour and 12 minutes. The second-biggest computer screen time consumers are Russians who are gripped to their computer screens for 4 hours and 17 minutes each day.
Worldwide, the average user spends 2 hours and 51 minutes looking at their computer screens and 3 hours and 46 minutes looking at their mobiles. While mobile screen time remains very similar to 2022’s figures (increasing by just two minutes from 3 hours 44 minutes), desktop screen time has dropped by 23 minutes on average (from 3 hours 14 minutes in 2022).
Americans are above average for their desktop screen consumption (3 hours and 31 minutes) but are just below average for their mobile consumption (3 hours and 28 minutes). The similar figures for desktop and mobile screen consumption is something we witness across the pond, too. Britons spend 2 hours and 55 minutes on their desktops and just three minutes less per day (2 hours and 52 minutes) on their mobile phones.
Filipinos are the biggest mobile screen consumers, spending 5 hours and 31 minutes a day looking at them. They’re closely followed by Brazilian users who spend 5 hours and 28 minutes looking at mobile phone screens.
So, just how much time are we dedicating to our screens?
If the average person sleeps for 8 hours, this means we’re spending over 41 percent of our waking hours looking at a screen. South Africans, however, are spending almost 60 percent of their wakeful hours on a computer or mobile. At the other end of the scale are the Japanese who spend just over 23.4 percent of their wakeful hours looking at a screen.
But why are screentime hours decreasing and which countries improved their screentime?
Worldwide, the average person’s screen time decreased by 20 minutes, with all but four countries reporting a decrease in overall screen time from 2022 to 2023. The biggest improvements were seen in the Philippines where the average person had slashed their screen time consumption by 1 hour and 13 minutes (from 10 hours and 27 minutes to 9 hours and 14 minutes).
The most obvious reason for a drop in screen time would be the return to normality post-pandemic. Many people returned back to full-time work in 2022, after spending a large proportion of the pandemic at home.
Despite being this year’s biggest screentime consumers, South Africans saw the second-largest improvement in the amount of screentime. Their daily screen time use decreased by 1 hour and 8 minutes to reach 9 hours and 38 minutes per day (compared to 10 hours and 46 minutes last year).
The Netherlands, China, Russia, and Poland were the only four countries to increase their screen time in 2023. The Netherlands upped their screentime the most by 16 minutes, followed by the Chinese increased by 10 minutes, the Russians by 7 minutes, and the Polish by 2 minutes.
Worldwide, the average person spends 2 hours and 31 minutes on social media each day. Americans consume less than this, averaging 2 hours and 16 minutes per day. And the biggest consumers are Brazilians, spending 3 hours and 46 minutes per day on social media.
But which country is spending the largest chunk of its screen time on social media?
Indians spend the largest proportion of their daily screen time (44.39%) consuming social media. This is closely followed by Indonesians (42.86%). These figures aren’t too far from the average, however, which is 38.04 percent.
Just over 32.46 percent of Americans’ screen time is taken up with social media (2 hours and 16 minutes). This is similar to the British who consume 1 hour and 56 minutes of social media per day on average (this is just over 33 percent of their overall screen time).
The social media platforms that Americans are most fond of include Facebook, used by 74.2 percent of internet users, Instagram (60.5%), Messenger (60.3%), Tiktok (47%), and Twitter (42.3%).
The high consumption of social media in South American, African, and Asian countries is reflected in the large number of social media accounts people in these countries tend to have. With Brazilians having 8.4 accounts on average, it’s not hard to see why they need 3 hours and 46 minutes to digest all of the information on there!
Indians do have a higher average number of social media accounts (8.7) but spend nearly an hour less per day on here than Brazilians (2 hours 50 minutes). Other countries with high social media accounts include Indonesia (8.4), the United Arab Emirates (8.2), and the Philippines (8.2).
The average person worldwide had 7.2 accounts, with both the United States (6.6) and the United Kingdom (6.1) being below average.
TikTok is implementing a 60-minute screentime limit by default for children under 18
In recent weeks, TikTok has announced that anyone under the age of 18 will have their account automatically set to a 60-minute daily screentime limit. Once the daily limit has been reached, teens will be prompted to enter a passcode in order to continue watching. The aim of this, TikTok claims, is to encourage children to “make an active decision to extend that time” or to stop watching.
TikTok explains that although “there’s no collectively-endorsed position on the right amount of screen time or even the impact of screen time,” academic researchers concluded that the limit should be set at 60 minutes.
93.5% of Americans stream TV on the internet
Another huge portion of screen time in most countries is dedicated to streaming TV. On average, 90.9 percent of people will use the internet to stream their favorite TV shows and movies.
Filipinos had the highest proportion of people using the internet to stream TV with a massive 97.9 percent of the population doing so. This is closely followed by Mexicans (97.7%), Brazilians (97.6%), and Indians (97.5%).
Which countries are listening to the most podcasts and streaming the most music?
By percentage of internet users, Brazilians had the most podcast users with 42.9 percent of users tuning in to their favorite podcasts for an average of 1 hour and 17 minutes per day. But it’s Indians who are listening for the most amount of time per day (listening for 1 hour and 34 minutes on average). Globally, 21.2 percent of internet users tune into podcasts for an average of 1 hour and 12 minutes per day.
Brazil (alongside Indonesia) also boasts the highest percentage of internet users listening to music streaming services with 50.3 percent. Brazilians listen for an average of 2 hours and 11 minutes per day and Indonesians for 1 hour and 37 minutes. The biggest consumers are, however, in India, where users average 2 hours and 22 minutes per day. Around the globe, 39.1 percent of internet users are listening to music for an average of 1 hour and 38 minutes per day.
As for Americans, 46.3 percent of internet users are listening to music on streaming services for an average of 1 hour and 59 minutes a day, and 25.7 percent of all users average 1 hour and 2 minutes per day listening to podcasts.
Other top internet-based activities
Some of the other key ways people are using the internet are using videos as an online learning source, watching vlogs, accessing financial services, and checking health symptoms online.
- 43.4 percent of internet users watch online videos as a source of learning (including how-to videos, tutorials videos, or educational videos) each week
- 25.5 percent of internet users watch vlogs each week
- 24.9 percent of internet users check their health symptoms online each week
- 27.7 percent of internet users, use the internet for financial services (including banking, investment, or insurance websites/apps) each month
Filipinos aren’t just the biggest vlog users (55.6% of internet users are consuming this type of online content) but also have the highest percentage of internet users (64%) using online videos as a source of learning.
Just over 49 percent of South African internet users are making use of a banking, investment, or insurance website app each month. And Colombia has the biggest percentage (40%) of internet users checking health symptoms online each week!
As you can see from the above table, there is little correlation (if any) between screen time amounts and internet speeds. Therefore, higher consumption isn’t necessarily caused by slow internet speeds and waiting for pages to load.
Using the data available from DataReportal.com, we looked at the varying screen times by device and activity to create viewing times for each country and to calculate the percentage of time people spend looking at their devices.
Chile and Czechia have been added to the list of countries.
Data researcher: Charlotte Bond