Roughly half or more of adults in 26 countries use social media sites. It is most common in Argentina, Brazil and Malaysia, where over eight-in-ten report using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter (now known as X) and Instagram. In Europe, Germany (51%) is the only country where fewer than six-in-ten adults say they use social media. And in the Asia-Pacific region, India (47%) is the only country where fewer than seven-in-ten say this, a global survey covering 27 countries by Pew Research Centre shows.
The gap is biggest in Poland, where 98% of adults under age 40 use social media sites. Only 48% of their older counterparts say the same. In Germany, Hungary, India and Indonesia, there are also differences of 40 points or more.
The gap is smallest in Israel, where 72% of those 40 and older report using social media, compared with 85% of younger adults.
A 2022 report found that the age gap in social media use has narrowed over time across 19 advanced economies. That is because older adults’ rate of using social media has increased more quickly than that of younger adults in a number of countries, the centre says.
“In some countries, those on the political left are also more likely than those on the right to use social media. For example, eight-in-ten Hungarians who place themselves on the ideological left report using social media sites, while about six-in-ten of those on the right say the same.”
A majority of adults in all countries surveyed use the internet. Internet users are defined as people who say they use the internet at least occasionally or have access to the internet via a smartphone.
In most countries surveyed, around nine-in-ten or more adults are online. At the upper bound, 99% of South Koreans are online.
Comparatively fewer adults are online in India (56%), Nigeria (57%) and Kenya (66%). Still, internet use in these countries continues to grow as economic outcomes improve and technology becomes more widespread.
Within countries, however, internet use remains highly dependent on demographic factors such as age, education and income.
In every country surveyed, adults ages 18 to 39 are significantly more likely than those 40 and older to use the internet. These gaps are especially large in several of the middle-income countries.
For example, 73% of adults in India who are younger than 40 say they use the internet, compared with 36% of Indians 40 and older. Similar gaps exist in Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico and Poland.
Differences by age in advanced economies are relatively small. In just over half of these countries, internet use among 18- to 39-year-olds is universal, at 100%.
In all countries surveyed, adults with more education are more likely than those with less to use the internet. As with age, the education gap on internet use is most pronounced among people in emerging economies, such as India and Nigeria. In these countries, those with more education are about twice as likely as those with less education to use the internet.
Majorities of adults in nearly every country surveyed say they own a smartphone. Rates of smartphone ownership are highest in South Korea, where 98% report owning a smartphone, and lowest in India and Nigeria, where fewer than 50% do. Around three-quarters or more of adults in advanced economies in North America, Europe and Asia say they have smartphones.