16 Real Social Media Addiction Stats You Should Pay Attention to

Over that last decade, there has been a significant cultural change that is now global. It is the norm now to spend time each day checking your social media feeds. What began as a teenage fad has gradually spread to encompass more than half the world's population. Social media scrolling is normal for most people, although somewhat time-consuming. For some though, social media is an addiction. 

Social media addiction is a behavioral addiction characterized as being overly concerned about social media and driven by an uncontrollable urge to log on to or use social media. Social media addicts spend so much time on their social apps that it impairs other important life areas. 

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram produce the same neural circuitry caused by gambling and recreational drugs. A constant stream of retweets, likes, and shares affects the brain's reward area and triggers the same kind of chemical reaction as other drugs, such as cocaine. Some neuroscientists have compared social media interaction to a syringe of dopamine being injected straight into the system.

The amount of social media addiction statistics collected, particularly for 2023, is relatively small. Nonetheless, we have included some stats we feel are relevant. We have extrapolated older data in some cases in order to make predictions for the coming year of 2024.

By the way, if you feel that you may be suffering from social media addiction, you should ask yourself the following six questions. If you answer "yes" to more than three of them, you may be developing a social media addiction.

  • Do you spend a lot of time thinking about social media or planning to use social media?
  • Do you feel urges to use social media more and more?
  • Do you use social media to forget about personal problems?
  • Do you often try to reduce the use of social media without success?
  • Do you become restless or troubled if unable to use social media?
  • Do you use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on your job or studies?

16 Real Social Media Addiction Stats You Should Pay Attention to:

1. Almost 5 Billion People Use Social Media Worldwide

According to Statista, more than 5 billion people over the world use the internet. Out of these, 4.8 billion people are social media users. That’s close to 60% of the world’s population.

Based on the Digital 2023: Global Overview Report, there was a 3% year-on-year increase in the number of worldwide social media users between 2022 and 2023. While this might not seem like much, it actually translates to 137 million new social media users.

internet and social media users worldwide | Statista

This increase in the number of social media users is notable as it provides an estimate of the number of people around the world who could develop an addiction to social media. How so?

Social media in itself affects how our brain works. With snippets of hormone-inducing posts, social media use can disrupt the concentration of our natural opioids and serotonin. The addictive quality of social media usage is further increased when users engage in mental rituals like following certain accounts or posting frequently to stay in touch with friends.

Moreover, social media increasingly replaces physical human interactions. As social media usage increases, it seems likely that internet addiction stats will continue to increase as well.

2. People Spend More than 6 Hours Every Day on the Internet

Time spent using the internet has pretty much been consistent over the years. According to the Digital 2023 report, internet users worldwide spend about 6:37 hours a day using the internet. This daily time spent on the internet is higher in some countries, with South Africa topping the list at 9:38 hours, followed by Brazil at 9:32 hours.

3. Social Media Dominates Daily Internet Time

If you’re wondering what people do with all that time on the internet, the answer lies in social media. The report found that the top types of websites and apps people use on the internet are chat and messaging, with 94.8% of internet users using them. This is followed by social networks, with 94.6% of internet users accessing them.

This makes sense since 53.7% of users report using the internet to keep in touch with friends and family, making it the second most popular reason. The main reason for using the internet is to find information.

According to the Digital 2023 report, social media accounts for 38% of the daily time spent using the internet. That’s a year-on-year increase of 7.2% from the 35.5% share in the previous year. From these numbers alone, it’s clear to see that people are spending even more time using social media as compared to other internet activities.

4. Internet Users are Spending 2:31 Hours Per Day on Social Media

So what exactly does that share represent in hours? Based on data from the Digital 2023 report, that’s two and a half hours of time spent on social media daily. Like the daily time spent on the internet, the daily time spent on social media has remained pretty consistent over the years. However, there was still a 2% increase from the same time the previous year.

5. Younger Generations Spend More Time on Social Media…But Only Slightly

The Digital 2023 report also found that the share of time spent on social media was highest for people between the ages of 16 and 24. Females in this age group spent 42.6% of their time using the internet on social media while males spent 38.7%. The numbers decrease as the age group ascends but only by a small difference.

This goes to show that people across all generations dedicate a significant portion of their daily internet time to using social media. It could very well indicate the possibility of social media addiction affecting individuals of all ages.

6. Some Teenagers Spend up to Nine Hours Per Day on Social Media

It’s important to note that the above report only covers social media usage among people 16 years and up. So it doesn’t accurately represent social media addiction and usage among an even younger population, particularly teens.

According to FameMass, teenagers spend even more time than adults on social media (no surprise about that). Teens aged 13 to 18 years old average 3 hours and 1 minute per day. Some teens, however, spend up to 9 hours every day on social media–much more time than they spend in school.

These numbers are alarming considering the harmful impact of social media on the mental health of teenagers. Numerous studies have found a connection between negative sense of self-worth among younger users, particularly teenage girls. In fact, one study found that Instagram worsens body image issues for one out of every three teenage girls.

7. Social Media Users Use an Average of 7 Platforms Each Month

Considering the amount of time people spend using social media, it would be naïve to assume they’re just concentrating on one or two platforms. In fact, the Digital 2023 report found that social media users actively use about seven different platforms every month. This means that people are routinely switching between social media platforms to consume different types of content.

The number of social media platforms used varies based on country, age, and gender. India tops the list with an average of 8.7 platforms used each month while social media users in Japan typically limit themselves to just 3.5 platforms.

When it comes to age-wise distribution of social media platforms used, you might be surprised to find that Gen Z isn’t at the top of the list. In fact, people between the ages of 25 and 34 are the most prone to switching between social media platforms, closing in on eight different platforms used each month. This is followed by users between the ages of 16 and 24 who use between 7.6 and 7.8 platforms each month.

8. People Spend the Most Time Each Month on TikTok

Even as social media users switch between different platforms, their usage of certain platforms is much higher than others. For instance, people are spending the most time on TikTok each month. Based on data from the Digital 2023 report, users spend an average of 23 hours and 38 minutes on the app each month. This translates to an increase of 19.7% or 3 hours and 51 minutes compared to the previous year.

YouTube comes close with 23 hours and 9 minutes spent each month on the platform, although there’s been a 2.3% decrease from the previous year. Facebook is the third most used social media platform in terms of time spent per month, with people spending 19 hours and 43 minutes using the platform. As popular as Instagram may be, people are only spending about 12 hours a month on the platform.

Looking at these numbers, the average time spent per month is much lower for messaging apps such as Messenger, Telegram, and Line. This indicates that people are likely using social media more for consuming content instead of communicating with others.

9. Kids Spend an Average of 102 Minutes Per Day on TikTok

In line with the above findings, let’s take a closer look at how the younger population is interacting with TikTok. TikTok has grown to be the preferred social media platform for the global population of children. Think about it: while the average U.S. TikTok user spends around 828 minutes per month, kids spend an average of 102 minutes per day on the platform. These young people use it to connect with their friends, family, and social media stars in a fun and entertaining way.

As children in the U.S. and the U.K. use TikTok more than any other platform, parents need to be aware of how much time their kids are spending on the app. The daily use of TikTok could cause social media addiction due to its excessive use.

10. TikTok is also the Social App Most Blocked by Parents

However, it looks like parents are noticing the addictive nature of the TikTok app and are rightfully concerned about their children’s excessive use of TikTok. In fact, many parents have gone to extreme lengths trying to prevent or curb this addiction, which includes blocking the app. According to Qustodio, a parental control platform that allows parents to supervise and manage their children’s social media use, TikTok is the most blocked app on the platform.

But why TikTok? First, it’s the most popular app for kids in terms of hours spent on the platform. They use it for social media, entertainment (watching videos and sharing content), communication (chatting with friends), and learning how to use technology.

Secondly, it has become a habit for kids to spend too much time on TikTok because they find the platform addictive. This is due to its design, which makes it enticing for users to return to it more often.

Finally, these apps are designed specifically for young people who want an easy way to communicate with their peers without having to worry about adults intervening in their conversations. In order to avoid these negative effects of social media, parents can limit how much time their children spend on the app.

11. Screen Time is Increasing Among Tweens and Teens

Parents aren’t just concerned about their kids’ TikTok use. Overall screen time and media use have been rapidly on the rise over the past few years. Between 2019 and 2021, there was a 17% increase in media use among tweens and teens, according to a Common Sense Media survey. These numbers are alarming considering the 3% and 11% increase for tweens and teens respectively in the previous survey period between 2015 and 2019.

Among tweens (ages 8 to 12), screen media use increased from 4 hours and 44 minutes per day in 2019 to 5 hours and 33 minutes per day in 2021. The numbers are much higher among teenagers who went from spending 7 hours and 22 minutes per day on screen media in 2019 to 8 hours and 39 minutes per day in 2021.

Besides overall screen time, there’s also been an uptick in the time spent using social media among these age groups. The survey found that social media use among teens had increased by 17 minutes within those two years. Meanwhile, tweens were spending 8 minutes more time per day using social media.

12. Teens Spend More Time on YouTube than on TikTok

In spite of its growing usage, TikTok hasn’t yet managed to surpass YouTube when it comes to engaging a teenage audience. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 95% of teenagers in the U.S. say that they use YouTube, which makes it the most used platform among this age group. TikTok comes second with 67% saying that they use the platform.

Instagram is another popular choice among teenagers, with 62% saying that they use the platform. Since the survey was last performed in 2014-2015, the usage has grown significantly from 52%. On the other hand, Facebook usage has drastically dropped from 71% to just 32% of teenagers now using it.

13. Some Teenagers Use YouTube Almost Constantly

YouTube’s popularity among a teenage audience is not just in terms of the number of users. In fact, the same survey by Pew revealed that one out of five teenagers were using the platform almost constantly. That translates to about 19% of teens spending a huge amount of time on the platform, which speaks volumes about its addictiveness.

Meanwhile, 16% of U.S. teens also use TikTok almost constantly. Judging from these two numbers alone, it’s safe to assume that teenagers are being pulled to social media platforms using video content. The desire to find mental stimulation through videos may be the main reason why teens are so addicted to social media.

14. 36% of Teens Agree They Spend Too Much Time on Social Media

You might be surprised that some teens are pretty self-aware of their excessive social media use. Only 8% of teens in the survey felt that they were spending too little time on these platforms. Meanwhile, 38% agree that they’re spending too much time on social media. A majority (55%) believe that they’re spending just the right amount of time using social media.

Teens Self-Awareness of Social Media Use

As alarming as the social media addiction stats may be, these numbers make things a little more hopeful. Correcting behavior requires acknowledgment, so if these teens are recognizing their addiction to social media, it could eventually compel them to make an active effort in reducing their time spent on social.

15. A Majority of Teens Would Find It Difficult to Give Up Social Media

That said, not many teens are mentally ready to give up social media entirely. According to the Pew Research Center survey, 54% of teens in the survey said that it would be at least somewhat hard to give up social media. About 18% even said that they would find it very hard to give up social media.

Interestingly, it’s older teens that seem to be more addicted as 58% of those aged between 15 and 17 said it would be at least somewhat difficult to give up social media. Meanwhile, about 48% of those aged between 13 and 14 would find it difficult.

16. Young Adults Experience Sleep Issues Due to Social Media

The rampant social media use is bound to have a negative impact on other areas of life beyond mental health. This is true for young adults aged between 18 and 24 years, who report having sleep issues as a result of social media use.

About 40.6% of people in this age group say that social media negatively impacts their sleep. Additionally, 35.1% also say that it negatively impacts their academic performance.

On the flip side, there are some positives too. An overwhelming majority (67.4%) say that social media has a positive impact on their contact with family and friends.

Social Media's Toll on Young Adults' Sleep

Source: truelist.co

Wrapping Up

From the above social media addiction stats, it’s clear that excessive social media use is a very real problem. From mental health issues to sleep issues–social media is negatively impacting different aspects of our lives. And it’s affecting people of all age groups, although younger users, especially kids and teenagers, are the most affected. It’s important for parents to actively monitor and control their children’s social media use so as to mitigate the negative impacts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is social media addiction?

Social media addiction is a behavioral addiction characterized by an uncontrollable urge to use social media, often leading to excessive time spent on these platforms. This can interfere with important life activities and responsibilities, similar to how gambling and recreational drug use impact the brain’s reward system.

How prevalent is social media use worldwide?

As of the latest data, over 4.8 billion people use social media worldwide, accounting for close to 60% of the global population. This number reflects a significant increase from previous years, indicating the widespread and growing influence of social media.

How much time do people spend on social media daily?

On average, people spend about 2 hours and 31 minutes per day on social media. This usage has remained consistent over the years, with a slight increase from the previous year, highlighting the significant role social media plays in daily life.

What are the common signs of social media addiction?

Common signs of social media addiction include:

  • Spending excessive time thinking about or planning to use social media.
  • Feeling urges to use social media more frequently.
  • Using social media to forget about personal problems.
  • Failing to reduce social media use despite trying.
  • Feeling restless or troubled when unable to use social media.
  • Experiencing negative impacts on work or studies due to social media use.

Which age groups are most affected by social media addiction?

Younger generations, particularly teenagers and young adults, are most affected by social media addiction. Teens aged 13 to 18 can spend up to 9 hours per day on social media, and young adults (18-24) often experience sleep and academic issues due to their social media use.

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.