South Africans spent at least 9.5 hours a day online in 2022. This was the highest in the world, exceeding the global figure by around three hours, a study showed.
The average time a person spent browsing the internet in 2022 was six hours and 37 minutes per day, according to a report released by Delaware-based virtual private network (VPN) platform Atlas VPN.
It collated data from social media research firm We Are Social and social media intelligence platform Meltwater to arrive at its conclusions. The data covered users aged between 16 and 64 in 46 countries.
Why South Africa?
In 2020, up to 70% of South Africans had access to the web, World Bank data show. The figure could be higher now, given the internet’s increasing penetration not just in the country but across the African continent.
By 2023, South Africa had 43.48 million internet users—its overall population is 60.14 million—showing a penetration of 72.3%. The country’s government plans to ensure web access to all South African homes by 2024.
While its internet speed is below the global average, it’s getting faster.
In 2021, South Africa’s digital quality of life was ranked 68th globally. Mobile and broadband internet affordability in the country, along with its mobile internet stability, was among the best in Africa.
Globally, mobile internet is becoming the most widely adopted mode of connectivity, according to reports. In sub-Saharan Africa, smartphones are emerging as the leading medium of connectivity.
The Atlas VPN study indicates that getting information (57.8%), staying in touch with friends and family (53.7%), keeping up to date with news and events (50.9%), watching videos (49.7%), and getting to know how to do things (47.6%) were the five main reasons people spend time online.
The world’s top five countries that camp online
Brazil (9 hours and 32 minutes), the Philippines (9 hours and 14 minutes), Argentina, and Colombia—tied at 9 hours and 1 minute—followed South Africa in terms of internet addiction.
“People in the United States also spend an above-average amount of time online, dedicating 419 minutes (6 hours and 59 minutes) daily to internet browsing—same as people living in Singapore,” the report said.
On the other hand, a number of European countries such as Denmark, Austria, and Germany spent less time online than the global average.
East Asian countries were the farthest behind. China’s figure stood at five hours and 25 minutes, Japan’s at three hours and 45 minutes.
Globally, meanwhile, the average time spent online has been decreasing as the world moves past the covid phase. In 2022, it was less by 20 minutes, or 4.8%, from 2021.