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Press Release

New report: Time spent online falls to pre-pandemic levels, while social media use increases

Press Release

Jan 26, 2023

Digital 2023 shows that people globally are becoming more discerning in their internet use.

San Francisco – January 26th, 2023 Meltwater, a global leader in social and media intelligence, and We Are Social, the socially-led creative agency, have released Digital 2023, their latest annual report on social media and digital trends worldwide. 

Digital 2023 shows that the typical internet user globally has reduced their average daily internet use by 20 minutes over the past twelve months to 6 hours 37 minutes, equating to a year-on-year reduction of almost 5 percent. However, time spent on social platforms has increased to more than 2½ hours per day — 40 minutes more than time spent watching broadcast and cable TV.  Analysis of the data suggests that people are looking for more purposeful internet use, with a focus on quality over quantity. The daily usage rate is a return to 2019 levels, before the COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the world’s digital behaviours.

The 465 page report also shows that social platforms are claiming an ever greater share of the world’s search activity. 16- to 34-year-olds are now more likely to visit a social network when looking for information about brands than they are to use a search engine (48 percent vs. 45 percent), and half of the world’s social media users say that they actively visit social platforms to learn more about brands and see their content. While the rise of TikTok search has already caught the attention of the media, the latest data suggest that Instagram is social media users’ preferred destination when researching things. 

The growing importance of social media is reflected in global advertising spend, with investment in social media ads more than doubling since the outbreak of COVID-19,  to reach an estimated US $226 billion in 2022.

Additional headlines in Digital 2023, which looks at social media, internet, mobile and ecommerce trends globally, include: 

  • There are 5.16 billion internet users in the world today, and 4.76 billion social media users. 
  • Average daily mobile time has increased by seven minutes per day over the past year, and the typical Android user now spends more than five hours per day using their smartphone, however: 
  • Computers still account for more than half of the time that people in North America and Europe spend using the internet. 
  • Ownership of cryptocurrencies is in decline: the share of internet users who own at least one form of digital currency fell by three percent between July and October. 
  • TikTok tops the global list of social media platforms when it comes to time spent per user on Android devices, followed by YouTube and Facebook.

Alexandra Saab Bjertnæs, Chief Strategy Officer at Meltwater said: ""Brands that want to be competitive today need to stay ahead of trends, searching for and identifying them, in order to understand their impact on any given industry. Consumers continue to spend more and more time on social media, and it’s clear that social will play an even more important role in the customer journey as users turn to platforms like TikTok and Instagram to guide their decision-making process. With more than 5 billion internet users today, it’s becoming more crucial than ever that brands deliver relevant, impactful, and purposeful content to capture attention and create value across digital channels."

Nathan McDonald, Group CEO and co-founder at We Are Social commented: "Social media's influence on how we live our lives continues to grow. From shopping to connecting, entertaining to searching, it's inextricably linked to our habits both on and offline. It's interesting to see internet use becoming more discerning - while being online is still incredibly important in our everyday lives, people rightly want to make sure it's time well spent. Marketers and creators will have to work even harder to attract and retain people’s attention in 2023 - it’s never been more important to understand online culture in order to reach people in a relevant way."

To view and download the report go to:

About Meltwater 

Meltwater provides social and media intelligence. By examining millions of posts each day from social media platforms, blogs and news sites, Meltwater helps companies make better, more informed decisions based on insight from the outside. The company was founded in Oslo, Norway, in 2001 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with 50 offices across six continents. The company has 2,300 employees and 27,000 corporate customers, including industry leaders in several sectors. Learn more at

About We Are Social

We are a global socially-led creative agency, with unrivalled social media expertise. With over 1,300 people in 17 offices around the world, we deliver a global perspective to our clients in a time when social media is shaping culture.

We make ideas worth talking about. We understand social behaviours within online communities, cultures and subcultures, spanning the social and gaming landscape. We work with the world’s biggest brands, including adidas, Samsung, Netflix and Google, to reach the right people in a strategic, relevant and effective way.

We Are Social is part of Plus Company. To learn more, visit