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Screen time statistics 2024: Global increases/decreases, mobile vs desktop, and screen time’s effects on children

Verified by Molly Dyson

How long do you spend, every day, glued to the glowing screen of your computer or smartphone? If the latest global research is to be believed, that number is around 7 hours every day – although, in reality, it could be a lot more.

Another question – how long do your children spend on their screens? According to the data, it’s as many as 9 hours per day for 11- to 14-year-olds – a statistic which, the latest data and research also suggest, could be having adverse effects on their mental and physical health.

So below, we’re unpacking all the screen time statistics you need to know about in 2024. We’ll explore how much time the average person (globally, and segmented by country) spends on their phone – and how screen time has evolved over the last decade.

We’re also breaking down what adults and children are using their screen time to do, and offering our top tips for helping you and your family stay safe online. We’ll look at what the latest research says about screen time’s impact on young people, and help you answer that burning question – how much screen time is too much?

Read on for our top screen time statistics in 2023.


Top 15 screen time statistics 2024

  1. According to 2023 research from Data Reportal, the average screen time for users around the world aged 16 to 64 – across different platforms and devices – is 6 hours 37 minutes per day.
  2. Mobile devices account for most of this, with the eyes of global users spending an average of 3hrs 46mins fixated on their smartphones in 2023. At 2hrs 51mins, desktop computer screens aren’t far behind (Data Reportal).
  3. Since 2013, global daily screen time has increased by 18 minutes (Data Reportal).
  4. Around the world, people spend, on average, 44 per cent of their waking hours looking at screens (Data Reportal).
  5. Users in the UK spend an average of 2hrs 55mins per day on their desktops, and 2hrs 52mins per day on their mobile devices (Data Reportal).
  6. Between 2022 and 2023, screen time usage grew most in the Netherlands (+16 minutes), and least in the Philippines (-73 minutes) (Data Reportal).
  7. Among US children, screen time is highest in the 11- to -14-year-old demographic, with an average usage of 9 hours per day (CDC).
  8. US teens from lower-income households (< US$35,000 per year) spend an average of 9hrs 19mins every day on their screens: 2hrs 3mins more per day than American teens from higher-income households ($100,000+ per year) (Common Sense Media).
  9. 80 per cent of K-12 educators in the US reported that increased screen time worsened children’s behaviour (EdWeek Research Centre).
  10. Two-thirds (67 per cent) of UK parents are concerned about what their child is watching online (Survation, on behalf of the BBC).
  11. Four in five (79 per cent) UK parents believe their children’s screen time has gone up since the pandemic (BBC).
  12. 90.9 per cent of people use the internet to access streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime (Data Reportal).
  13. South Africans account for the most global screen time, spending a daily total of 9hrs 27mins glued to their devices (Statista).
  14. For desktop devices alone, South Africa dominates, with 4hrs 25mins per day (Data Reportal).
  15. For mobile devices alone, the Philippines – with 5hrs 31mins per day – leads (Data Reportal).

What is screen time, and why does it matter?

Screen time refers to the amount of time a person spends interacting with electronic screens, such as smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs, and other digital devices.

Screen time could include using apps – such as games or social media – streaming video content, browsing the internet, working, studying, or engaging in any screen-intensive activities. In that sense, screen time can be both productive and recreational – and, used for good, screens can contribute positively to work, learning, and communication.

So, while research (much of which we’ll explore below) has pointed to the negative effects of prolonged screen time, it’s important not to paint screen time as inherently bad, or with too broad a brush. Striking a balance between screen time and time away from devices is the healthiest approach.

How much time does the average person spend on their phone?

The average 2023 screen time for users around the world aged 16 to 64 – across different platforms and devices – is 6hrs 37mins per day, although, as we’ll see below, not all countries use screen time equally, or for the same things.)

Global screen time usage statistics from 2013 to 2023

The figures of the average internet-connected screen time also show that, historically, the world’s screen time usage is increasing.

2013 6hrs 19mins
2014 6hrs 23mins
2015 6hrs 20mins
2016 6hrs 29mins
2017 6hrs 46mins
2018 6hrs 48mins
2019 6hrs 38mins
2020 6hrs 54mins
2021 6hrs 58mins
2022 6hrs 28mins
2023 6hrs 37mins

(Data taken from Q3 each year)

Interestingly, even the lockdown-filled pandemic years of 2021 to 2022 don’t display a staggering spike in global screen time usage; although between 2019 and 2021, mobile screen time jumped from 2hrs 56mins to 4hrs 12mins – a rise of 30 per cent, which suggests, perhaps, the influence of Covid-19 on our increasing reliance on smartphones.

Instead, history paints a picture of a slow, steady, yet inexorable increase in the amount of time the world spends on its screens – despite a decrease over the last couple of years. But again, this rule isn’t a global one – and the rate of change differs widely across countries.

Screen time usage increase around the world

Between 2022 and 2023, internet users in just four countries saw an increase in their average screen time, with the Netherlands leading the way:

  1. Netherlands (+16 minutes)
  2. China (+10 minutes)
  3. Russia (+7 minutes)
  4. Poland (+2 minutes)

Screen time usage decrease around the world

Between 2022 and 2023, the average screen time trends, for most countries, were going in one direction – down.

At -1hr 13mins, the Philippines saw the biggest decrease in its screen time, followed by South Africa (-1hr 8mins).

The full list of countries that saw their screen time drop between 2022 and 2023 includes:

  1. The Philippines (-73 minutes)
  2. South Africa (-68 minutes)
  3. United Arab Emirates (-64 minutes)
  4. Malaysia (-64 minutes)
  5. Colombia (-62 minutes)
  6. Thailand (-60 minutes)
  7. Indonesia (-55 minutes)
  8. India  (-55 minutes)
  9. Taiwan (-53 minutes)
  10. Mexico  (-48 minutes)
  11.  Brazil (-47 minutes)
  12. Saudi Arabia (-45 minutes)
  13. Japan (-40 minutes)
  14. Argentina  (-37 minutes)
  15. Turkey  (-36 minutes)
  16. Ireland  (-32 minutes)
  17. Singapore  (-29 minutes)
  18. Israel  (-27 minutes)
  19. United Kingdom (-25 minutes)
  20. Australia  (-22 minutes)
  21. Egypt  (-21 minutes)
  22. Hong Kong (-20 minutes)
  23. Austria (-20 minutes)
  24. Sweden (-19 minutes)
  25. Spain (-19 minutes)
  26. Portugal (-19 minutes)
  27. Belgium (-17 minutes)
  28. Vietnam (-15 minutes)
  29. Italy (-15 minutes)
  30. New Zealand (-11 minutes)
  31. Germany (-10 minutes)
  32. Canada (-10 minutes)
  33. France (-8 minutes)
  34. South Korea (-8 minutes)
  35. Switzerland (-7 minutes)
  36. Greece (-6 minutes)
  37. Romania (-6 minutes)
  38. Denmark (-5 minutes)
  39. USA (-5 minutes)

Screen time usage increase in children

Adults, needless to say, spend a lot of time on their phones – wherever they’re using them. But for children, these screen-time totals are thought to be even more inflated – especially among certain age groups.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average daily screen time hours per age group in the US are:

  • 6 hours for 8- to 10-year-olds
  • 9 hours for 11- to 14-year-olds
  • 7.5 hours for 15- to 18-year-olds

These figures don’t include the use of screens for educational purposes, either, which suggests the need for a more nuanced understanding of screen time; to get to grips not only with how much time people spend online, but how they’re actually using that time, too.

That’s why researchers from the University of Queensland’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences in Australia – which sampled more than 400,000 children from around the world, across a range of separate studies – split screen time into two brackets:

  • “Active” use: surfing the internet, or playing games online
  • “Passive” use: watching TV or streaming videos on the internet

We’ll unpack the study – and its findings on children’s screen time – below. All this begs the question, though – what is the average person spending their screen time on?

What is the average person spending their screen time on?

Screen time statistics watching TV
The majority of screen time is used watching TV online (Adobe)

What are people doing when they spend all those hours on their screens?

Much of the time, it’s watching their favourite movies and TV shows online, with 90.9 per cent of people using the internet to access streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime (Data Reportal).

Around the world, the biggest TV users (that is, the proportion of people using the internet to stream TV) are:

  • Philippines (97.9 per cent)
  • Mexico (97.7 per cent)
  • Brazil (97.6 per cent)
  • India (97.5 per cent)

However, there’s another factor hogging the hours the world spends on its screens – social media.

In the UK, Brits spend 1hr 56mins per day on social media – equating to a third (33 per cent) of their overall screen time. Percentage-wise, this is on a par with the 32.46 per cent of screen time Americans spend surfing social media, at 2hrs 46mins per day.

Both countries’ social media usage, however, pales in comparison to the world’s chief social media addicts – Indians.

According to Data Reportal, Indians spend 44.39 per cent of their screen time on social platforms, while Indonesia (42.86 per cent), Mexico (41.27 per cent), Saudi Arabia (41.14 per cent), Chile (40.31 per cent), Philippines (40.25 per cent), Vietnam (39.69 per cent), Brazil (39.51 per cent), Colombia (39.19 per cent), Turkey (39.19 per cent), and South Africa (38.75 per cent) are all above the global average of 38.05 per cent.

For young people, research into US teenagers from Common Sense Media indicates they spend most of their screen time watching TV or videos (3hrs 16mins). Hot on its heels are:

  • Gaming (1hr 46mins)
  • Social media (1hr 27mins)
  • Browsing websites (51 minutes)
  • Other (29 minutes)
  • Video chatting (20 minutes)
  • E-reading (15 minutes)
  • Content creation (14 minutes)

In another eye-opening piece of data, young people’s screen time is also influenced by how much their families earn. US teens from lower-income households (< $35,000 per year) spend an average of 9hrs 19mins every day on their screens. This is a staggering 2hrs 3mins more per day than what American teens from higher-income households ($100,000+ per year) spend on their devices (Common Sense Media).

Screen time statistics by country

According to Statista, South Africans account for the most global screen time. As of Q4 2022, internet users in the country spent a whopping 9hrs 27mins glued to their devices – every day.

Brazil is the runner up, with its residents averaging 9hrs 15mins per day on their devices, while Japan is the least screen-addicted country in the world. Its people, on average, spend less than four hours per day plugged into the internet.

Desktop screen time statistics by country

When it comes to computer-based screen time, South Africans are, again, the global leaders – averaging 4hrs 25mins per day (Data Reportal).

In second place? Russia, following closely with an average daily desktop screen time of 4hrs 17mins. In third is Colombia’s 4hrs 11mins, while fellow South American countries Argentina (4hrs 6mins) and Brazil (4hrs 4mins) round out the top five. The other biggest computer-based screen time countries are:

  1. Portugal (3hrs 56mins)
  2. Chile (3hrs 50mins)
  3. Philippines (3hrs 43mins)
  4. Malaysia (3hrs 38mins)
  5. Singapore (3hrs 36mins)

As for computer screen users in the UK, we spend, on average, 2hrs 55mins per day on our desktops – slightly more than what we spend on our mobiles. This places the UK 31st in the world for computer screen time (Data Reportal).

The same data suggests Americans are more screen-hungry: with an average desktop screen time of 3hrs 31mins placing the USA 14th in the world on this metric.

At the other end of the scale, Japan has the lowest desktop-based screen time, with an average of 1hr 51mins per day. China (2hrs 9mins) is the second-lowest, with India’s 2hrs 28mins hot on its heels. The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and South Korea are also low.

Overall, the average global screen user spends 2hrs 51mins on their computers per day in 2023. This has dropped by 23 minutes from 2022’s average of 3hrs 14mins.

Mobile screen time statistics by country

The biggest mobile screen users in the world, says Data Reportal, are people from the Philippines, with a 2023 average of 5hrs 31mins per day. Brazilians, with 5hrs 28mins per day, are a close second. South Africa is again well represented near the ranking’s summit, with an average of 5hrs 13mins of mobile screen time every day.

Here’s how the list of the rest of the top 10 mobile screen-using countries looks:

  1. Thailand (5hrs 5mins)
  2. Argentina (4hrs 55mins)
  3. Indonesia (4hrs 53mins)
  4. Colombia (4hrs 50mins)
  5. Chile (4hrs 46mins)
  6. Mexico (4hrs 32mins)
  7. Malaysia (4hrs 28mins)

Mobile users in the UK spend 2hrs 52mins per day on our handheld devices – a mere 3 minutes less than our average desktop computer-based screen time – to rank 36th.

Again, Americans’ vast appetite for screen time is reflected in the data: mobile users in the US spent an average of 3hrs 28mins on their devices in 2023 to rank 22nd in the world.

How about the countries with the lowest mobile screen time in the world? Japan, again, takes the plaudits, with 1hr 54mins per day. Denmark (2hrs 14mins) and Belgium (2hrs 19mins) are also low, while the next lowest – Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and France – reflect Europe’s continent-wide trend towards less screen time (Data Reportal).

Overall, the average global screen user spends 3hrs 46mins on their mobiles in 2023. This represents a small increase of two minutes from 2022’s total.

What are the risks of high screen time – and its effects on kids?

While we all love the odd Netflix binge or catching up on the latest headlines online, high screen time isn’t without its risks. These include:


Disruption to sleeping patterns: staying up late on social media, or to watch TV, can get in the way of a good night’s sleep. Plus, the blue light screens emit can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep.


Eye strain and discomfort: prolonged screen time can lead to dry eyes, headaches, and blurred vision – all symptoms of digital eye strain or, more commonly, “computer vision”.


Obesity: more time on screens generally means a more sedentary lifestyle. This is a risk factor for obesity and other related health issues, including poor posture and musculoskeletal problems leading to neck, shoulder, and back pain.


Mental health issues: excessive screen time – particularly that linked to social media – can contribute to feelings of loneliness, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.


Academic and work performance: too much screen time can distract from professional, academic, or even personal responsibilities – leading to decreased concentration, performance, and productivity.

There’s one group particularly affected by high screen time – and that’s children. Excessive screen time has long been linked with negative effects on a child’s developing brain – including their attention span, memory, ability to concentrate – and how they behave.

In one EdWeek Research Centre survey in January and February 2022 of almost 900 K-12 educators in the US, 80 per cent reported that increased screen time worsened children’s behaviour. Fourteen per cent said it wasn’t affected, while a mere 6 per cent reported screen time makes children’s behaviour “a little better”.

What’s more, data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study – the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the US – has linked screen time with insidious effects on children’s growing brains.

The study found that children who spent more than 2 hours a day on screens scored lower on thinking and language tests. Worse still? Kids with more than 7 hours of daily screen time experienced a thinning of the cortex – the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and critical thinking.

Yet despite the risks of high screen time, and its effects on how young people behave, parents are still giving them plenty. Data from Insider Intelligence suggests most US parents (51 per cent) give their children three or more hours of screen time a day. Conversely, just 15 per cent of parents limit their children to a maximum of an hour on their devices.

In research from the UK, a survey by Survation (on behalf of BBC Children’s and Education) from May 2023 found that, of 2,010 participating parents:

  • Two thirds (67 per cent) are concerned about what their child is watching
  • Four in five (79 per cent) believe their children’s screen time has gone up since the pandemic
  • 83 per cent say it’s important to limit a child’s screen time

There’s a big variable here, of course – and that’s what those children are doing, or watching, online. This was a big concern for the parents surveyed, whose concerns stemmed from:

  • The presence of violence (35 per cent)
  • Certain content’s addictive nature (26 per cent)
  • The use of foul language (21 per cent)

Similarly, the University of Queensland study we mentioned earlier highlighted gaming as a form of screen time with potentially serious implications.

It found excessive recreational computer use led to an:

  • 84 per cent higher increase of psychosomatic complaints in boys
  • 108 per cent higher increase of psychosomatic complaints in girls

As for TV usage, the Australian research also found boys who watched TV for more than 2 hours were 67 per cent more likely to suffer physical or mental consequences, with girls, at 71 per cent, at even higher risk.

By and large, however, the BBC-backed Survation survey painted a more nuanced, optimistic picture of how UK parents feel about their children’s screen time, in that:

  • 65 per cent agree screens have the ability to foster creativity and communication
  • 51 per cent believe education is the most important reason behind screen time (30 per cent say entertainment)
  • 55 per cent don’t feel guilty when providing their child with a screen-equipped device
  • 70 per cent say it’s important that content their children are accessing on a screen comes from a trusted source

So, while the risks and issues a high screen time causes – particularly for children – are prevalent, they can be mitigated by a focus on educational content from trusted sources.

How much screen time is too much?

How much screen time is too much? Here, experts differ.

The findings from the aforementioned study by the University of Queensland found 2 hours is the optimal limit for screen time for children – and any more is too much.

Beyond this, the study showed, children become at risk of a range of mental health consequences, including irritability, difficulty sleeping, feeling low, and nervousness, as well as a number of physical issues such as backache, dizziness, and headaches.

Dr Samina Yousef – a paediatrician at OSF HealthCare – agrees, while also setting age-specific screen time limits: one hour for children aged two to five, and zero hours for anyone younger. Other research, from The American Academy of Pediatrics, concurs – with the caveat that, from age five upwards, there’s no specific number of screen time hours that applies.

Instead, claims Jacob Holzman – a clinical child and adolescent psychologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado – it’s up for families to determine what they feel is right for the unique needs and circumstances of their child. This is backed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), which states a “one-size-fits-all approach is not based in evidence” (cited in Forbes).

Despite the nuances – and a grey area that only becomes more so with time – it’s clear most authorities on the subject set a maximum screen time for children of two hours per day for non-educational activities.

How to reduce your screen time

Screen time statistics how to reduce hourglass and smartphone
Setting screen time limits can help reduce your screen usage (Adobe)

While there’s no cookie-cutter solution for reducing your and your family’s screen time, some best-practice strategies include:

  • Setting limits: establish daily or weekly screen time limits for your household – especially for recreational, rather than academic or professional, uses.
  • Prioritising offline activities: encourage outdoor activities – such as physical exercise – and non-screen-related pursuits, such as reading or family board game evenings.
  • Create ‘tech–free zones’: designate areas in your home where screens aren’t allowed, such as the dining table or in bedrooms.
  • Get notification smart: disable non-essential smartphone notifications to reduce the urge to constantly check your device.
  • Practise the Pomodoro Technique: break time spent working or studying into focused intervals (25 minutes, for example), then step away for short, screen-free breaks.
  • Use screen time tracking apps: these apps, such as Apple’s ‘Screen Time’, help you track and manage the time you spend glued to a device, providing insights into your ongoing smartphone usage and reminding you to take breaks.
  • Establish a screen-free bedtime ritual: create a relaxing bedtime routine that allows you to unwind without your device for company, such as reading a book or meditating.

Some social platforms, such as TikTok, are already taking steps to help their users – particularly younger ones – regain control over their daily screen-time tallies.

In March 2023, TikTok announced new restrictions limiting the daily screen time on the app for any user younger than 18 to 60 minutes.

The limit – set in conjunction with experts from the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital – means after an hour on the app, users will have to enter a passcode to continue accessing it. For users under 13, a parent or guardian will have to enter this passcode to enable up to 30 minutes’ more watch time.

TikTok said the move will “requir[e] [users] to make an active decision to extend that [screen] time”, despite “no collectively endorsed position on the ‘right’ amount of screen time”.

How to check your screen time

How to monitor screen time on both your and your family’s devices will depend on the type of device and operating system you’re using.

We’ve summarised how to do this on both iPhones and Android devices below.

How to check your screen time on an iPhone

On an iPhone, the Screen Time app is the easiest way to keep tabs on your usage.

Simply go to ‘Settings’, then ‘Screen Time’ – and tap to turn it on. Here, you can set up Screen Time for yourself, or on your child’s iPhone. You can also enable Screen Time across all your Apple devices – including desktop computers – here, by selecting ‘Share Across Devices’.

How to check your screen time on an Android

To check your screen time on an Android device, navigate to the Digital Wellbeing menu.

From there, head to ‘Settings’, then the dashboard of the ‘Digital Wellbeing & parental controls’ section. You can check your device usage under ‘Screen time’.

How to check your screen time on a desktop computer

If you’re using a computer with Windows, simply open the Start Menu and click the gear-shaped icon. This will launch the ‘Settings’ app. Next, select ‘Power & battery’ from the right side of the System tab – then click on ‘Battery usage’ to expand it. From here, you can view your screen time over the last 24 hours.

How to stay safe while using a screen

Much of the research on screen time points to the fact that often, it’s not how much time we’re spending on our devices – but what we’re using them for.

Through this lens, staying safe while using a screen to access the internet is vital.

Here are our top tips for staying safe while using a screen:

  • Use strong passwords: set unique passwords – including upper and lower case characters, numbers, and symbols – and consider using a secure password manager to keep track of them.
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA): by requiring you to confirm it’s really you by using multiple devices, 2FA adds an extra layer of security to your online browsing.
  • Update your software and apps: regularly freshening up the operating system, software, and apps you use every day gives you access to the latest security patches.
  • Be cautious with links and attachments: avoid clicking on suspicious-looking links – especially those from unknown sources. Similarly, educate your family on what phishing attempts look like and remain wary of unsolicited emails, messages, or calls requesting your login details or other sensitive information.
  • Review your privacy settings: adjust how your profiles online (particularly on social media platforms) can be viewed – and who is able to view them.
  • Regularly back up your data: by backing your important files up to the cloud, you can mitigate the negative impact of data loss – in case of device theft, damage, or technical issues – on your life.

Another important way to stay safe online? Using secure wifi networks – especially when it comes to sensitive transactions. Public wifi networks should only be relied on as a last resort, and only for the most basic of internet surfing.

For an extra layer of security, though, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a must.

VPNs mask your IP address while you browse – creating an encrypted and secure tunnel between your device and a remote server. Through this, VPNs protect your data from the probing eyes of your ISP, and ensure the safety and integrity of your online searches.

To browse the best VPNs on the market in 2024, explore our comprehensive guide. Our research – which encompasses hundreds of different VPN providers – compares and contrasts the performance, price points, and privacy policies of each to help you decide which is right for you. We’ve also split them out by device – with the best VPNs for iPhone and the best VPNs for Android – to safeguard you in the places you spend most of your screen time.


As the above screen time statistics highlight, global screen time is growing – as is the seemingly bottomless catalogue of online content available to kids and adults alike.

So what’s the final verdict on screen time? Ultimately, it’s a double-edged sword – especially as far as children are concerned. 

Screens – with all the social media and messaging apps they enable – provide opportunities for connection, collaboration, and camaraderie. They allow young people to reach out to a world wider than their own, and – if used correctly – can also become a platform to enable education, power productivity, and develop a wider, deeper understanding of what’s around them.

Yet just as screen time can support child development, it can also inhibit it (UK Parliament Post). In the same way social media apps can alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation, they can also cause them – and, despite the lack of concrete agreement on the correlation between excessive screen time and poor physical and mental outcomes, some relationship surely exists.

The bottom line? While screen time can be both good and bad, what it needs to be is managed. A structured, reasonable approach to screen time that works for the whole family – one that balances education alongside entertainment, and evolves as the child grows – is the most effective strategy to keeping everyone happy, and to staying safe online.

Rob Binns


Rob is an experienced writer and editor, with a wide range of experience in many topics, including renewable energy and appliances, home security, and business software. He has written for Eco Experts, Home Business, Expert Market, Payments Journal, and Yahoo! Finance. . 

Rob has a passion for smart home technology, online privacy, as well as the environment and renewables, which leads him to the Independent Advisor where he writes about related topics, including cyber security, VPNs, and solar power.

Molly Dyson


After growing up with a passion for writing, Molly studied journalism and creative writing at university in her home country of the United States.

She has written for a variety of print and online publications, from small town newspapers to international magazines. Most of her 10-year career since relocating to the UK has been spent in business journalism, writing and editing for admin professionals at PA Life magazine and business travel managers at Business Travel News Europe and representing those titles at conferences around the world.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Molly is an expert in a broad range of consumer topics, that include solar panels and renewables, home improvements and home insurance, and consumer technology such as home security and VPNs.

In her free time, Molly can usually be found exploring the outdoors with her husband and their young son or gardening.