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46 Internet Addiction Statistics: 2020/2021 Data, Facts & Predictions

by Arthur Zuckerman

When it first sprung to life, the internet was meant to be a military communication network. But over the years, it has morphed into global cyberspace that’s subtly vast and formless, yet so powerful. Despite its extremely complex nature, the internet is ubiquitous, and its accessibility stretches well beyond governments and businesses. While many users savor the benefits, internet addiction statistics have shown that some people are grappling with the ugly side of the internet.

So, where did the rain start beating us? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the world wide web to reveal the negativities that operate beneath the surface. The goal is to help you realize that hyper-ritualistic involvement with the internet can impact your interpersonal relationships and psychological dynamics. In this way, you’ll be in a position to draw the line between good and bad internet usage.

internet addiction statistics

Key Internet Usage Statistics

Much like other addictions, to become an internet addict, you first have to be an internet user. And so, to comprehend the internet addiction statistics better, you must understand where this disorder starts. Amazingly, many people enjoy multiple activities over the internet that enables them to socialize, meet, and exchange ideas.

For a good reason, many spend endless hours online examining topics of interest and engaging online friends on social networks and chat rooms. As the stats below imply, internet usage is proliferating, impelled by the proliferation of social media networks and smartphones.

Distribution of internet users

The entire world has awakened to a high tide of internet usage. It’s sweeping all corners of this world, enticing people of all generations and demographics to join the rollercoaster ride. Asians continue to dominate, with countries like China taking the lead in the hectic race. Interestingly, mobile internet has risen from the periphery, and going by statistics; it’s the current driver of internet usage growth.

  • As of April 2020, 59% of the global population of approximately 4.57 billion people were active internet users.
  • In terms of penetration, 58.7% of the global population has internet access.
  • Of the total number of internet users, 50.3% are in Asia, 15.9% in Europe, 11.5% in Africa, 10.1% Latin America, 7.6% North America, 3.9% Middle East, and 0.6% in Oceania.
  • In addition, 4.2 billion people were active mobile internet users, 3.81 billion were active social media users, whereas 3.76 were active mobile social media users.
  • Moreover, 854 million Chinese adults or 59.3% of the population are active internet users. On the other hand, 292 million US citizens or 89% of the population are active internet users.
  • In 2014, there were 2.485 billion internet users. This number has grown steadily over time to reach 4.388 billion users in 2019.
  • Looking at it from a regional perspective, North America has the highest internet penetration at 94.6%. Other regions on the top list include Europe (87.2%), Latin America (70.5%), Middle East (69.2%), Oceania (67.4%), Asia (53.6%), and Africa (39.3%).


Time spent on the internet

This is where things start to go haywire. The following statistics show that, as the internet evolves, more people are losing control and getting entangled on the internet.

  • On average, in 2019, an internet user spends 6 hours and 42 minutes online each day.
  • Besides, internet users spend an average of 3 hours on social media platforms per day.
  • In the US, 81% of adults spend some time online daily.
  • 12.4% of internet users spend more time online than intended very often or often.
  • 13.7% of internet addicts find it hard to stay away from the internet for several days at a time.

Internet Addiction Demographics Statistics

Internet addiction is best defined as an impulse control disorder. In other words, it’s a case where an internet user develops an inherent emotional attachment to their online activities on websites and apps.

Usually, internet addicts are driven by the desire to achieve satisfaction, and thus they have to use the internet with increased time. The following internet addiction statistics reveal that internet addiction is prevalent in all age groups. However, as you’ll notice, teenagers and young adults are the worst hit.

  • 61% of internet users are addicted to it.
  • Internet addiction is common among all age groups and its prevalence is as follows: 13-17 (73%), 18-24 (71%), 25-34 (59%), 35-44 (54%), 45-54 (40%), 55-64 (39%), and 64+ (44%).
  • According to Pew Research, 48% of people aged 18 to 29 go online almost constantly. Also, 36% of adults aged 30 to 49, 19% of those 50 to 64, and 7% of those 65+, use the internet almost constantly.
  • Generation X users are more addicted to the internet, particularly to social media than Millennials.
  • Both genders, male and female, are caught in internet addiction. Actually, 64% of female and 55% of male internet users are internet addicts.
  • Another study revealed that, in the US, 29% of men and 27% of women use the internet almost constantly.
  •  A 2019 study revealed that 3.4% of high school students had severe internet addiction. On the other hand, 39% had low-level addiction, and 32% had moderate-level internet addiction.
  • In another study, it was revealed that 65.5% of junior high school students belong to the internet addiction-risk group. Also, the study found that 6.5% of the students were in the severe internet addiction group.

Percentage of Internet Addicts Across Different Age Groups in 2019

Source: PEW Research Center

Created by

What fuels internet addiction

Much like other disorders, it’s not easy to tell the exact cause of internet addiction disorder. The following internet addiction statistics suggest that this disorder has multiple contributing factors. Income, level of education, and race have a hand in internet addiction.

  • The first thing that exposes internet users to addiction is income. According to Pew Research, 34% of people with an annual income of $75,000 or more use the internet more constantly and thus are at risk of getting addicted, compared to 23% of people earning less than $30,000.
  • In addition, 36% of people with college or university education are online almost constantly. On the other hand, only 23% of people with high school education go online constantly.
  • Moreover, race is another factor. In fact, 34% of Hispanic adults use the internet constantly, compared with 26% white and 25% black adults.

The above statistics show clearly that people from all walks of life can be an internet addict. Online activities often generate euphoria, which blinds users, enticing them to remain fixated to their computer or mobile screens. This is a situation we’ve found ourselves in time and time again.

Does this always translate into internet addiction? Certainly not, but this is always the hallmark of a soon-to-be pathological case of internet addiction disorder. When left unaddressed, it soon becomes a full-blown problem that starts to considerably hamper daily life, relationships, and real-life human connections.

What Do Internet Addicts Do Online?

What you ought to know is that the internet doesn’t require deep technical sophistication to comprehend. Its simplicity means there are endless opportunities for developers to come up with all sorts of online activities to keep users glued to the computer or mobile screens.

However, it’s still puzzling how something invisible can be so addictive. To help you decipher internet addiction, we’ve compiled a list of the activities that addicts engage in online. As shown by the stats below, addicts engage in different activities, including shopping, gaming, social networking, and blogging.

  • The top five online activities for internet addicts in China include social networking (94.73%), school work (86.53%), entertainment (82.44%), online gaming (73.42%), and online shopping (33.67%).
  • According to Mental Health America, the most rampant types of internet addiction include cybersexual, cyber-relationships, net compulsions, online gaming, and information seeking.
  • A whopping 45% or 3.5 billion people in the world are on social media.
  • 20% of internet addicts wake up in the middle of the night to check their social accounts.
  • Also, 34% of internet addicts access their favorite websites and check for status updates before getting out of bed.

Top Behaviors of Internet Addicts

Top Behaviors of Internet Addicts
Constantly uses chat applications like Facebook Messenger: 35%

Constantly uses chat applications like Facebook Messenger

Top Behaviors of Internet Addicts
Checks status updates from their phone before getting out of bed: 34%

Checks status updates from their phone before getting out of bed

Top Behaviors of Internet Addicts
Checks their favorite chat app while going to the bathroom: 27%

Checks their favorite chat app while going to the bathroom

Top Behaviors of Internet Addicts
Wakes up in the middle of the night to access favorite sites: 20%

Wakes up in the middle of the night to access favorite sites


Source: Brandongaille

Created by

Where do people access the internet

The above-mentioned activities are happening on electronic devices that have internet access. Interestingly, the very device you’re using to read this article can easily drive you into uncontrolled internet usage and, ultimately, plunge you into addiction.

  • 52% of the global population are mobile internet users. In other words, 3.986 billion people in the world access the internet using their mobile devices.
  • Besides, 81% of Americans own a smartphone. Of this number, 84% are men, whereas 79% are women.
  • In addition, 74% of Americans own desktop/laptop computers, whereas 52% own tablets.

There is a thin line between proper and improper use of the internet. For example, many of the good use of the internet, such as gaming, social networking, and online shopping, can easily become addictive. The problem is, many internet users don’t know where to draw the line and declare certain levels of engagement in these activities to be too much.

However, some bad uses of the internet are conspicuous. For example, if you engage in activities such as cyber-dating or even cybersex, there is a high probability that you’re struggling with internet addiction. Besides, if the first thing you think about when you wake up is checking your status update or visiting your favorite website, internet addiction is regrettably rooted in your daily life.

Negative Effects of Internet Addiction Statistics

If you’re ensnared by internet addiction, your life is either on the brink of, or it’s already, feeling the negative effects. Studies have shown that internet addiction disorder causes structural changes to the brain’s prefrontal region. As a result, it impairs your capability to resoundingly organize and prioritize crucial tasks in life.

But that’s not all; internet addiction statistics show that the disorder can have far-reaching adverse effects on the addict’s relationships and career.

  • Studies have found that internet addiction impairs various functions of life.
  • Besides, internet addiction can lead to internet gaming disorder, which in turn has adverse effects on psychological functions.
  • Internet addiction causes some psychiatric disorders, directly or indirectly. For example, internet addiction is associated with mood disorders, poor sleep quality, impulsivity, self-esteem, and suicide.
  • Even worse, internet addiction has a negative effect on the part of the brain that’s involved in decision making, executive attention, cognitive control, and emotional processing.
  • Internet addiction causes 50% of workers today to suffer severe occupational impairment.
  • Unfortunately, 5.9% of internet addicts say that their relationships went south as a result of excessive internet use.

While few studies examine the impact of internet addiction on mental health, there is no doubt that the disorder can cause tremendous psychological problems. The disorder was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder as an ailment that needs more research, which points to its growing impact on mental health.

Beyond this, internet addiction thrust victims into a self-created and self-satisfying virtual space, making them massively detached from the real world. As a result, the addicts become isolates who suffer in silence and watch helplessly as their relationships and mental health deteriorate.

Treatment of Internet Addiction Statistics

The first and most important step in the treatment of any disorder is the recognition or diagnosis of the problem that exists. Diagnosing this disorder, however, has always proven to be a hard nut to crack because of some overarching issues such as lack of accountability and limits.

The following internet addiction statistics reveal the dismal nature of the treatment landscape of this disorder. But first, let’s look at the symptoms of internet addiction.

Symptoms of Internet Addiction

The symptoms of internet addictions come in both emotional and physical manifestations. However, the stats below suggest that knowing these symptoms doesn’t help in the diagnosis of internet addiction. The number of addicts who are aware of their status is dismally low, which probably points to the complexity of diagnosing the disorder.

  • 12.3% of internet addicts have seen the need to stop or regulate internet use at some point.
  • 8.2% of technology or internet addicts are aware of their status, and so they try to hide non-essential use of the internet from friends, family, and employers.
  • Only 35.4% of high school students show signs of internet addiction.
  • Some of the most common emotional symptoms include anxiety, depression, a feeling of guilt, isolation, dishonesty, agitation, mood swings, and defensiveness.
  • Also, internet addiction has physical symptoms, such as headaches, insomnia, carpal tunnel syndrome, backache, neck pain, poor nutrition, and dry eyes.

Diagnosing Internet Addiction in Students

How many students show signs of addiction?

Source: NCBI

Created by

Treatment of internet addiction

Are there viable treatment options for internet addiction? The answer to this question depends on how you perceive this disorder. Some people see it as a “fad illness” and firmly believe the disorder should resolve itself. However, for people who take internet addiction with seriousness and believe in proper treatment, there are effective therapies that can help.

  • Interestingly, 39% of the addicts can easily quit if they wanted to.
  • It is also good to note that internet addicts can suffer similar withdrawal problems to substance misusers.
  • According to one study, the world is far from a comprehensive model for testing, diagnosing, and treating internet addiction disorder.
  • Some of the most common treatment options include behavioral modification, equine therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Internet addiction is challenging to diagnose, and this explains the reason why it’s difficult to treat. Some people have embraced self-corrective behavior, with the help of software that controls internet use, to deal with the disorder. Besides, the striking prevalence of internet addiction has compelled treatment centers to joins hands in the creation of psychological treatments.

Initially, people used electroshock therapy as psychological treatment, but that option has since been banned. Luckily, other therapies, such as the DBT, CBT, Art, and Reality therapy, have been devised to take its place. Hopefully, the rate at which this disorder is gaining traction will inspire scientists and medical professionals to come up with a standard diagnosis and treatment.

The Way Out of Internet Addiction is Getting Trickier

There you have it, a compilation of the key internet addictions statistics and facts. Unfortunately, owing to the sparsity of internet addiction studies, we had to cull data from a few small studies. Fortunately, however, the statistics have sufficiently painted a picture of the deteriorating cases of internet addiction.

One thing we’ve noted with serious concern is that modern cultures are encouraging and legitimizing the use of new technologies. The race to a fully digital landscape has pushed people from different walks of life into the internet age, hence increasing the probability of addiction. Even more worrying, nowadays, everything—from shopping, interaction, ordering food, playing games, and watching TV and movies—has moved online.

Digital technology has swept across every aspect of our lives, further blurring the lines between healthy and unhealthy use of the internet. Besides, the proliferation of smartphones and tablets means that you don’t have to sit in front of a computer to plunge yourself into the online world. All these factors have stacked the odds in favor of increasing internet addiction cases.

To sidestep the subtle yet powerful psychological manipulation of internet addiction, you have to know the boundaries. You’ve to demarcate and bolden the line between good and bad internet use. Most importantly, you should desist from overstepping this boundary, regardless of the overarching situation.


  1. The worldwide digital population as of April 2020
  2. World Internet Users and 2020 Population Stats
  3. Internet Trends 2019
  4. About three-in-ten U.S. adults say they are ‘almost constantly’ online
  5. 2019 in Review: Social Media is Changing, and It’s Not a Bad Thing.
  6. 33 Interesting Internet Addiction Statistics
  7. Internet addiction test: Croatian preliminary study
  8. Personal Factors, Internet Characteristics, and Environmental Factors Contributing to Adolescent Internet Addiction: A Public Health Perspective
  9. Addictive Behaviors Reports
  10. Pew Research
  11. Risky Business: Internet Addiction
  12. Internet addicts’ can suffer similar withdrawal symptoms to substance misusers.
  13. Digital is 2019
  14. Generation X More Addicted to Social Media Than Millennials, Report Finds
  15. Internet addiction: Too much of a good thing?
  16. The impact of Internet Addiction on Mental Health
  17. Challenges of internet addiction disorder. 
  18. Internet addiction disorder
  19. Mobile Fact Sheet

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