Smartphones/Mobile Applications Social Media Technology

New Study Reveals Alarming New Trends in Global Screen Time Habits and Addictions

Image courtesy of Pixabay

We all have a little bit of a problem with screen time addiction. It’s just a fact of modern life, where almost everything we do (and have to do) is mediated through digital technology.

A recent study by Electronics Hub found that the average global citizen looks at a screen for 6 hours and 43 minutes per day, or around 40% of the time they’re awake.

The study took a deep dive into screen time trends worldwide, looking at which countries have the highest average screen time, which are most addicted to TikTok, and which have a growing smartphone addiction problem.

The country with the highest percentage of screen time

South Africans spend a large portion of the day staring into some kind of screen. In fact, more than half (56.80%) of their waking hours pass by in front of a screen; that works out to around 9 hours of screen time every single day—higher than any other nation in the world.

Japan can proudly claim that its citizens spend the least amount of time absorbed by screen time. According to the data, the average Japanese person spends a mere 22% of their waking hours at a screen, which equates to less than 3 hours per day. 

The country that spends the most time on social media

Five of the top ten nations that spend the most time on social media are found in South America. This is largely due to the continent’s demographics. Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico have a younger population compared to regions like Europe and North America. In other words, these nations have more people who have grown up with (and now can’t live without) social media.

Flipping that around, we see why Japan has the world’s lowest social media screen time score (5.11%). A combination of low birth rates and increased life expectancy means Japan has one of the “oldest” populations on the planet. Nearly 29 million people in Japan are over 65. That’s almost a quarter of the country’s entire population—not exactly the ideal target demographic for TikTok videos or viral YouTube content. 

The world’s biggest TikTok addicts

No one watches TikTok more than people in the UK. Here, the average person watches 154 TikTok videos daily.

Despite rumors of a TikTok ban in the USA, its citizens are still loving the platform. They watch an average of 142 videos every day. But that’s not as much as it might sound. TikToks are approximately 34 seconds long. So 142 videos work out to roughly 80 minutes of daily TikTok time.

How much time do people worldwide spend looking at a computer screen?

Whether it’s for work, fun, or an idle few hours browsing, we all spend some parts of our waking hours in front of a computer screen.

But probably not as much as the Russians. They came out as the nationality with the highest percentage of waking hours at a computer screen, averaging 4 hours 29 minutes per day (or 27% of awake hours).

Once again, South Africa appears near the top of the chart. It’s a country where people sit in front of a computer screen for over a quarter of the day.

The most phone-obsessed nations in the world

Nomophobia (no-mobile-phone phobia) is a very modern phenomenon. It defines the anxiety we can experience without the comfort of a mobile device tucked away in our pocket. Nomophobia stems from the smartphone dependency we’ve developed. According to some studies, 50% of people admit to feeling addicted to their phones. Worryingly, that rate is even higher among younger people.

Nomophobia is running wild in countries all over the world, including South Africa, Brazil, and the Philippines. In each case, people living in these nations are on their phones for over 5 hours a day; that’s more than a third of the time humans are usually awake.

Where people spend the most time playing computer games

It’s easy to lose a few hours in front of the PlayStation or Xbox. The games we play are designed to keep us engaged as we try to reach the next level, complete one more mission, or beat our all-time high scores.

However, given video games’ addictive nature, it seems that the vast majority of players have a good handle on their gaming habits.

Saudi Arabia scores highest when examining the data on how much time people around the world spend playing video games. Yet this ‘high’ score was relatively low. Saudi gamers play for around 10% of their ‘awake’ time, meaning the average gamer is in front of a screen for under two hours per day.

The USA watches the most TV

This final part of the study looks at one of the more old-school forms of screen-based entertainment: television. And it found that despite an overall decline in viewership figures, Americans still watch TV for 4 hours and 39 minutes per day. No other country scores higher than that.

About the author


Ashley Murphy

Ashley Murphy graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. He began working as a freelance content writer in 2015. He writes for NeoMam Studios, specializing in technology, higher education, current affairs, the arts, and entrepreneurship.