How People Use The Internet In 2020

Posted under: Internet and Social Media

How People Use the Internet in 2019

It's not hard to see just how much of an impact the internet has on our lives. The vast majority of us rely on it in some form or another to do our jobs, and it's also a tremendous source of entertainment and communication. For most of the people in the world, we love the internet so much that we pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars for devices that allow us to access it anywhere we go.

Because of how important the internet is to our lives, the world is working hard to make it better. The Internet of Things is here, and 5G wireless networks are just starting to be rolled out, all of which will make for greater connectivity and even more internet use.

While there is no doubting that the internet is important, have you ever stopped to wonder exactly how people use the internet? If you had to, you could probably guess some of the primary reasons why we're so in love with staying connected. When we look at how the majority of the world uses the internet, we realize that this limitless tool that has transformed our world is used for what is actually a relatively narrow range of activity.

However, it's still pretty shocking to look at the different ways we use the internet, as this reveals just how much of an impact it has had on our lives. Below you'll find a full analysis of how people use the internet in 2019.

Internet Use Statistics in 2019

Internet Statistics

Reasons Why People Use the Internet

To help you better understand how people use the internet, we've divided our analysis up into subgroups. Within each one, we can find a range of activities for which we all use the internet. Some you can expect, but others will surprise you.


As you might expect, one of the main reasons people use the internet is to communicate with one another. This was one of its original purposes; in the early days of the internet. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, computer scientists were trying to figure out how to connect two computers and communicate. Then, when the internet went mainstream in the 1990s, email, blogging, and instant messaging helped make the internet one of the most important modes of communication we have.

Here is some more information about the different ways we use the internet to communicate:


Email was one of the first forms of widespread internet communication. It became so popular in the 1990s that a movie was made about the joy felt when you opened your computer and heard "You've Got Mail."

Some have claimed that email use would decline as other forms of communication developed, such as instant messaging and video calls, but this just simply isn't the case.

Here are some stats about email that show how it's just as widely used today as ever:

·         In 2018, there were some 3.8 billion email users around the world, which is just a little less than half the population of the entire world. [Radicati]

·         Some 281 billion emails were sent per day, and this number is expected to grow to more than 333 billion by 2022. [Statista]

·         These statistics mean the average email user sends 74 emails per day.

·         Just under 91 percent of internet users in the United States use email, making it the most popular online activity in the country. [Statista]

Social Media

Social media rose alongside the internet during the 1990s, but it really took off at the end of the 1990s/early 2000s with the release of sites such as MySpace and, more importantly, Facebook. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, social media had become a worldwide sensation.

Consider these stats about social media use in todays world:

·         The average person spends 116 minutes per day using social media, which is equivalent to five years and four months out of a lifetime of 66 years. [Social Media Today]

·         74 percent of people use Facebook on a daily basis. [Pew]

·         Currently, there are more than 2.62 billion social media users around the world and this number is expected to grow to 3 billion by 2021 [Statista].

Instant Messaging

Another significant form of online communication is instant messaging. Some of us remember AOL Instant Messenger "AIM" and what we have today is not all that different from this original messaging tool. AIM is no longer used in the same way, although it does still exist, remind us that old fads die hard.

Today, one can instant message on a wide variety of platforms. The most popular are WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, but WeChat, a social media network/instant messaging platform specific to China, is not far behind.

Here are some stats about instant messaging:

Instant Messaging

[1], [2], [3]

Video Calling

The rise of the internet, as well as improvements in connection speeds and cameras, has made video and voice calling an important part of the worlds internet use. And it's easy to see why. Video chatting gives people the ability to talk face-to-face even when they are on opposite sides of the globe.

The most popular apps for this are Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and FaceTime. Here are some stats to help you understand how popular video calling has become:

·         WhatsApp users make 55 million video calls per day, which adds up to 340 million daily video calling minutes. [Daily Times]

·         46 percent of internet users cite video calls and video conferencing as a reason why they use the internet. [Statista]

To Get Information

After communication, the primary reason why people use the internet is to get information. This is another example of the internet staying true to its original purpose since those who developed the first internet were hoping to find a way to make research conducted by academics in different parts of the world more accessible to the entire academic community.

Today, you can use the internet to access information about pretty much anything. Here are some of the main types of information people access via the internet as well as some stats about each.


Fewer industries have been impacted more by the growth of the internet than the news media. In the past, people relied on newspapers and TV for their news, but those days are nearly gone. For evidence, just look at how many newspapers are still around today as compared to just 15 or 20 years ago.

It is easy to see why this is the case. Internet news is instant and it allows people to follow events as they happen. Of course, some argue this leads to more mistakes and the degradation of the overall quality of news but every change has its positives and negatives. Here are some stats about online news:

·         43 percent of people often get their new online as compared to 50 percent who often get it from television. In 2017, these numbers were 38 percent for online and 57 percent for television. [Pew]

·         Two-thirds of American adults get their news from social media. [Reuters]

·         Despite people getting more and more news online, trust in online news sources is low. [Statista]

Product Information

As you will see shortly, shopping has become a major reason why people use the internet. It's now easier than ever to find the exact product you want from around the world and have it shipped to you.

However, another powerful reason why the internet has become so popular is that it's a great place for people to research products and read reviews about the products they're considering buying.

This is such an important part of people's internet use that entire businesses exist designed around helping people find out which products to buy and how to get the best price. Typically, they use affiliate links to earn a commission based on the reviews they offer.

Here are some stats about people using the internet to learn more about products:

·         95 percent of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. [Spiegel]

·         87 percent of customers place as much trust in an online product review as they do what they hear from word-of-mouth [Broadly]

·         90 percent of consumers want to read between 5-10 product reviews before they make a decision. [Broadly]

To Be Entertained

Another major reason people use the internet is for entertainment. What this means ranges from reading and researching to watching movies and TV shows to gawking at cute pictures of dogs. However, the three main activities for which people use the internet include watching video, listening to music, and listening to the radio and podcasts. Here are some stats about each one:

Watching Video

Video streaming went mainstream around 2007-2010 when faster, broadband internet connections become more popular. Since then, it has become one of the main reasons why we use the internet. YouTube and Netflix consume a bulk of our internet video watching, so here are some stats on both:

·         45 percent of people globally watch one hour or more of online video per day [Wordstream]

·         Netflix consumes 26 percent of the worlds streaming traffic [Sandvine] and 15 percent of the worlds internet bandwidth [Fortune]

·         Netflix users spend about 1 billion hours per week watching content [Softpedia]

·         There are more than 1 billion mobile YouTube videos viewed every day [Statistic Brain]

·         50 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 would drop what they were doing to watch a new YouTube video from a channel to which they subscribe [Think With Google]


Many of us know the story of Napster, one which promised free music to everyone in the world. This vision obviously never came to pass, but the digitization of music certainly changed the industry. Nowadays, a significant amount of people use the internet to listen to music. Here are some stats:

·         75 percent of the music industrys revenue comes from online streaming, as compared to 12 percent from physical copies. [Statista]

·         25 percent of all the music we listen to comes from a digital source, however AM/FM radio is still the most popular way to listen to music [Statista]

·         Spotify has more than 180 million monthly active users [Business Wire]

·         Both Spotify and Pandora users spend around 1.7 billion hours per month listening to streamed music. [Musically]

Podcasts and Radio

Another important source of online entertainment are both podcasts and radio. Podcasts were originally made only for Apple iPods (hence the name "pod"cast), but the meaning of the term has since been expanded to refer to any serial online audio show. Podcasts are widely popular and will likely continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Here is some more information about podcasts and radio:

·         There are currently more than 750, 000 active podcasts that have aired more than 30 million episodes. [Podcast Insights]

·         80 percent of podcast subscribers listen to all of most of each weekly episode. [Podcast Insights]

·         Weekly podcast listeners spend an average of 6 hours and 37 minutes listening to podcasts [Musico Oomph]

To Shop

We hinted at this earlier when we talked about product reviews, but shopping is another major online activity. When most of us think of online shopping, our thoughts tend to go straight to Amazon. This makes sense; Amazon is huge. But the growth of online shopping has made it possible for many small businesses to reach new customers and grow, giving birth to a new industry: eCommerce.

Consider the following about online shopping:

·         In 2018, consumers spent nearly $3 trillion while shopping online. This number is projected to reach almost $5 trillion by 2021. [Statista]

·         By 2021, its projected that mobile eCommerce sales will account for roughly 73 percent of eCommerce sales. Read: people love shopping on their phones. [Statista]

·         Nine out of ten consumers check Amazon before buying a product to see if it's available cheaper [Media Kix]

To Work

One particularly significant trend related to internet use is the growth in the number of people working online. The internet has made it more possible than ever for people to be location independent, and it appears workers around the world are keen to take advantage of this opportunity. To give you an idea, read the following stats about online work:

Work From Home

[1], [2], [3], [4]

To Go to School

In addition to work, more and more people are using the internet to get smarter and develop their skills. There are online universities as well as sites such as Coursera and Udemy that allow you to take individual courses from highly-qualified professionals from all over the world. Many universities and schools now offer eLearning as an option to their students, and companies offer their employees the chance to enroll in online training and education to help better prepare them to do their jobs.

All of this opens the door for tons of eLearning, and we can expect more to come in the future. To get an idea of how many people are using the internet to get a bit smarter, here are some stats:

·         6.3 million college students study online in one way or another. [US News]

·         Approximately 77 percent of US corporations offer their employees eLearning opportunities [Tech Jury]

·         The global eLearning market is valued at more than $165 million and it is expected to be worth more than $275 billion by 2025 [Reuters].


As you can see, (and as you probably expected), we use the internet for a lot of different things and we use it often. But at the moment, we use it more or less for the reasons you would expect: to communicate and get information. Of course, there are many other things you can do on the internet, we haven't even touched the Dark Web, but what people can do online and what they actually do are often different.

However, it's important to remember we are very much at the beginning of the digital revolution. Much of the world still don't have internet access, but they are getting it fast, and this is sure to change things even more.

Plus, as smart devices and the Internet of Things get more and more popular, we can expect there to be even more uses for the internet in the coming years. How we will deal with these changes, and how we will tolerate them, is yet to be seen. But one thing for sure is that the internet is here to stay.