According to a new survey conducted by Pew Research Center, the share of people who use the internet or own a smartphone continues to expand in the developing world and remains high in developed nations.
There has been a steady increase in internet use over the past five years among the 19 emerging and developing economies surveyed. The survey highlights the following figures:
- Between 2013 and 2014, a median of 42 percent across these countries said they accessed the internet at least occasionally or owned a smartphone.
- By 2017, a median of 64 percent were online.
- internet use among the 17 advanced economies surveyed has remained relatively flat, with a median of 87 percent across these nations using the internet at least occasionally in 2017, similar to the 86 percent who said this in 2015 or 2016.
- In 2013-14, about a quarter of people in emerging and developing economies reported owning a smartphone.
- By 2017, that share had risen to 42 percent.
- Among the advanced economies, 72 percent report owning a smartphone in 2017, the same rate as in 2015-16.
Social Media use:
- In 2015-16, roughly four-in-ten adults across the emerging nations surveyed said they used social networking sites.
- As of 2017, 53 percent use social media.
Despite the growing number of Internet and smartphone users, the world still remains digitally divided. As per the survey report, the internet penetration remains high in North America and much of Europe, as well as in parts of the Asia-Pacific.
- South Korea stands out as the most heavily connected society (Among the surveyed economies), with 96 percent of adults reporting internet use.
- Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, the U.S., Israel, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain aren't far behind where roughly nine-in-ten report internet use.
But, Internet use continues to lag in many developing economies. Richer countries, as measured by gross domestic product per capita (purchasing power parity), tend to have higher rates of internet use, while poorer countries tend to have lower rates. For instance:
- Only one-in-four Indians report using the internet or owning a smartphone.
- Regionally, sub-Saharan Africa is one of the least wired parts of the globe, where a median of 41 percent across six countries use the internet.
- South Africa (59 percent) is the only country in the region where at least half the population is online.
The gender gap is most apparent in Africa, with men more likely than women to use the internet in Tunisia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Senegal. There are also double-digit gender gaps on internet use in India and Japan, the study said.