Global Internet Habits

An estimated three billion people across the globe now have access to the Internet and use it on a regular basis. We all know Americans tend to favor Facebook, cat photos and streaming online videos, but what does the rest of the world do on the web? North America Loves Netflix Americans and Canadians enjoy streaming movies online with Netflix and YouTube. In fact, in 2013, half of the Internet traffic in North America was from people streaming video. Internet penetration in the continent has reached over 87 percent with over 300 million people able to log on. Over 640 million Facebook accounts exist in North America, which suggests that people love it so much they’ve created multiple accounts. Or they’re possibly hiding from family members online. If his fan page is any indication, we also love George Takei. Europeans Love Social Media Europeans are pretty much overseas Americans when it comes to Internet usage. Over 65 percent of the 500 million European population now has access to the Internet and they love Facebook and Twitter, just like us. Maybe not surprisingly, they purchase goods online as eagerly as Americans too. More than 279 million Europeans spend at least 12 hours online every week and 33 percent of them believe they can’t live without their daily fix. Only five percent prefer to use the Internet on their mobile phones, which seems to be at odds with the way we do things here in the States. Nearly 80 percent of people under 25 use the Internet in Europe to do things like play on social media or stream movies. Asian Users Outnumber the Others American media tends to portray Internet usage across Asia as being stifled which isn’t exactly untrue. The penetration rate of the Internet in Asia reached 32 percent in 2014, slightly less than the global average of 37 percent. But the Asia Pacific region also counts 1.25 billion Internet users in total, making up over half the global online population. Most Internet users in Asia are under 35 years old and spend an average of 17.5 hours online a month with men spending more time online than women. The men seem to search for politics and gaming while the women shop for jewelry and clothes. Also, that Facebook thing we’re all so obsessed with over here? The Asian population can live without it. A network called Qzone dominates Chinese social media, though they do use Facebook on occasion, while India loves WhatsApp. The one thing Americans and Asians have in common when it comes to the Internet is a strong desire for anonymity and privacy. The Middle East Loves Tablets The Middle East is becoming pretty tech savvy and leads the way in terms of access to some of the coolest technology. They have more tablet users than the rest of the world on average at 49 percent of households. Satellite TV is also big there with 87 percent of households using it. For Middle Eastern users privacy is of less concern than their peers across the globe, though they’re less likely to engage in online banking or purchases. Facebook and Twitter are also surprisingly popular, though parts of the Middle East like Iran prefer a site called Cloob. They’re also more concerned about blocking content that might be unsuitable for children, though we’re not sure if this is a religious issue or not. South America Is Obsessed With Facebook South America has around 150 million Internet users who are as unhealthily obsessed with social media as we are. In fact, Chile has a Facebook penetration rate of 109 percent while Brazil ranks 2nd and Argentina ranks 7th in the world in terms of Twitter users. They also spend large amounts of time on their smartphones browsing online and making purchases. Brazil is estimated to make up 9 percent of the total mobile phone market alone. It looks like Facebook might have some competition in the eastern portions of South America. A social networking site known as Orkut currently has over 120 million users and rising. Africa Uses Phones to Get Around Lack of Access In Africa it’s all about the mobile phone. Weak landline infrastructure makes it almost impossible for most residents of the continent to access the Internet from home but mobile phone technology is rising quickly. Over 60 percent of online traffic in Africa comes from mobile use. Research indicates that mobile phone use will increase 20-fold over the next five years, rising at a rate five times faster than the rest of the world thanks to declining prices of data and cell phones in Africa. Research indicates an estimated 635 million people would be connected on mobile phones by the end of 2014. In the areas able to access the Internet on their phones residents enjoy using social media like Facebook and Twitter along with LinkedIn. There are over 51.5 million Facebook users. South Africa and Nigeria rank among the most social media savvy countries in Africa. The ways in which we access the Internet might differ but it looks like we all have one thing in common: we’re all obsessed with social media. Image by Beth Scupham/Flikr

Author -

Ben Kerns is a fan of all things related to technology and the Internet, especially when it comes to discovering new ways to further merge the two together. When he's not plugged in, he enjoys the great outdoors, healthy living, and singing off-tune to cheesy country songs.

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