Digital: Around the World

A total of 5.35 billion people around the world were using the internet at the start of 2024, equivalent to 66.2 percent of the world’s total population.

Internet users continue to grow too, with the latest data indicating that the world’s connected population grew by 97 million users in the 12 months to January 2024.

At 1.8 percent, this year-on-year growth rate is somewhat slower than the growth rates that we saw during the middle of the last decade, but it’s still one of the faster rates we’ve seen over recent months.

Increases in global internet access mean that the number of people who remain “unconnected” to the internet has fallen to 2.74 billion, with the majority of these people living in Southern and Eastern Asia, and in Africa.

That means that there’s still plenty more work to do before the world reaches the goal of “universal access”, and the quality of people’s internet access remains an important consideration too.

However, current trends suggest that two-thirds of the world’s population should be online by the middle of 2024.

The vast majority of the world’s internet users – 96.5 percent – use a mobile phone to go online at least some of the time, and mobile phones now account for roughly 57.6 percent of our online time, as well as 58 percent of the world’s web traffic.

However, more than 6 in 10 internet users in the world’s larger economies still use laptops and desktops for at least some of their online activities.

Social media headlines

Social media use continues to grow too, with the total number of active social media user “identities” reaching 5.04 billion in January 2024. 

That’s equal to 62.3 percent of all the people on Earth, and suggests that 94.2 percent of internet users now use social media every month.

The number of active social media user identities around the world has increased by 5.6 percent in the past 12 months.

266 million new user identities joined social media between January 2023 and January 2024, equating to growth of almost 730,000 new users every day.

That means that social media grew at an average rate of 8.4 new users every single second in 2023.

Social media user growth has slowed since the rapid surges that we saw during Covid-19 lockdowns, but global adoption actually accelerated over the past three months compared with 2023 as a whole, with the global active user base increasing by 9.4 users per second between October 2023 and January 2024.

However, now that close to 80 percent of “eligible” audiences aged 13 and above already use at least one social media platform each month, we should expect more modest user growth from now on.