Nearly 60 percent of the world uses social media, and the typical user spends more than two hours a day on it.
With 4.8 billion users every day, social media is an integral part of our world and the main way we stay connected.
On June 30 every year, Social Media Day is celebrated. The day was established in 2010 to acknowledge the impact of social media on global communication.
MySpace was the first social platform to reach 1 million active monthly users in 2004, paving the way for social media as we know it.
In the short space of two decades, social media usage has exploded with about 60 percent of the world’s population using it today.
What are the world’s most used social platforms?
Facebook takes the crown as the most widely used social media platform, boasting 2.96 billion active monthly users.
Founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, Facebook transformed the social media landscape. Starting as a college-exclusive network, it quickly expanded globally.
Meta (previously Facebook Inc) owns four of the world’s biggest social media platforms: Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. Each of the first three attract at least 2 billion active users every month.
Launched in 2005, YouTube has an impressive audience of 2.51 billion users, which makes it the second largest social media app. As of February, the most popular YouTube video was Baby Shark Dance, which is closing in on 13 billion views.
WhatsApp and Instagram rank third and fourth with 2 billion users each. WhatsApp was founded in 2009 and has quickly become a popular messaging app globally while Instagram has become popular for its photo and video sharing. It is popular among social media influencers and their followers.
How much time on average does a person spend on social media?
The typical user spends about 2.5 hours per day on social media, according to DataReportal.
That’s 864 hours a year of scrolling through apps, equivalent to 36 days or a little over a month.
When we extend this timeframe over the course of a lifetime, the numbers become even more staggering. Assuming an average lifespan of 72 years, with age 16 being the eligibility criteria to use social media, users can spend about 5.5 years of their lives on social media.
The reasons behind this extensive time investment vary. Social media are go-to platforms for communicating, entertainment and staying up to date with the latest content and news.
However, studies have shown that the pervasive use of social media is linked to negative impacts on mental health with one study finding that lengthy social media usage was linked to an increase in depressive symptoms in adolescents.
“Any social media algorithm whether it’s Instagram or Facebook or Snapchat, they work essentially the same. They are optimised for engagement,” author Cathy O’Neil told Al Jazeera. “They are optimised to keep you on the social media platform, no matter what. Instagram or Facebook don’t care if it’s quality or if it’s harmful or if it’s anything else. If things like this keep you there, we’re going to show you more of those things.”
“What do those algorithms look for? They look for things that will be paid attention to. The company’s business model relies on people clicking on ads, and they have noticed a strong relationship between staying on the platform longer and clicking on ads,” O’Neil added.
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