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Digital Wellbeing Statistics from Humane Tech Event

This week’s presentation by the Center for Humane Tech included some headline-grabbing stats, and a few great quotes, transcribed and source-checked here.

  • 150. Number of times Millennials check their phone per day (Qualtrics and Accel, 2016) (1)
  • 72% of teens believe tech companies manipulate users to spend more time on their devices (Common Sense Media 2018) (2)
  • 70% of teens use social media multiple times a day, with 16% saying they use it “almost constantly” (Common Sense Media 2018) (3)
  • 18% of Americans feel they don’t have anyone to talk to (Cigna 2018)
  • 47% of Americans do not have a meaningful in-person social interaction on a daily basis (Cigna 2018)
  • 1.6bn Swipes per day on Tinder alone. That’s more that 18,500 every second (Tinder) (4)
  • 6x. Fake news travels six times faster online (on Twitter) than the truth (and 20x faster at getting retweeted) MIT
  • 1 million Twitter accounts per day were suspended from May-July of 2018 (Washington Post)
  • 1.9 billion people use YouTube. (YouTube) That’s more than the number of followers of Islam, the 2nd largest religion in the world (Sundar Pichai)
  • 60+ minutes. The average watch session time on YouTube from a mobile device (YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan, 2018)
  • 24,000 Minutes of video are uploaded to Youtube every minute (Statistica, 2015) (5)
  • 70%. Amount of YouTube watch-time driven by automated recommendations (rather than search) (YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan, 2018)
  • 90%. The proportion of YouTube recommendations that promote flat earth theory Tristan Harris, 2019 (6)
  • 2.27 billion people use Facebook. That’s more than the number of followers of Christianity. The world’s largest religion (Facebook)
  • 3.2 billion people use social media. That more than the number of people who live in North American, South America, Europe, Africa and Oceania combined (Hootsuite x We Are Social 2018 Digital Report) (7)
  • 4 billion people use the internet. That’s more than half the world’s population – (Hootsuite x We Are Social 2018 Digital Report) (8)
  • 1 trillion. Processing power has increase 1,000,000,000,000x since 1966 (Experts Exchange, 2015)
  • 121 Languages are supported on Facebook for default buttons, language, and other text. (Facebook 2019)
  • 47 Languages are supported on Twitter for default buttons, language, and other text. (Twitter, 2019)
  • 11 hours. The time American adults spend everyday engaging with some form of media. (Nielsen, 2018)



(1) Interestingly, and mildly ironically for an event focusing on fake news, this 150 number appears to be a fake-news zombie statistic – extrapolated and misquoted from a 2010 Nokia study. More recent studies have shown both higher (221 times/per day). Tekmark survey UK and lower results (e.g. UK teens, 92 phone checks per day)

(2)/(3) US teens – 1,141 13- to 17-year-olds in the United States, GfK Panel

(4) Data appears to have been removed from Tinder site

(5) 2018 stats – 500+ hours video uploaded per minute to YouTube (Ben McOwen Wilson)

(6) See Guillaume Chaslot for recommendation systems designed to optimise watch time are a problem

(7) 2019 stat – 3.48bn active social media users

(8) 2019 stat – 4.39bn Internet users (57% of world population)

Written by
Dr Paul Marsden
Join the discussion

  • Wow, reading through the stats and quotes is eye opening. Seeing it all in one place is sort of scary. Thanks for sharing, Dr Marsden. It is business’ responsibility to utilise social media to incorporate and enhance and encourage relationships. Sean Parker’s quote perfectly illustrates this. We need to choose the right thing to do with this information.

  • Sadly there is no proven, well researched (without negative bias) correlation between those stats. Yes, the way we access and consume content online has changed. Yes, fake accounts exist. But where is the actual, scientific proof that all those negative stats impact people’s wellbeing (and not the economy, class, race and other actual challenges?). Please refer to the 2019 Oxford meta-study (Orben, Przybylski) which does prove a very small correlation indeed – young people’s wellbeing is more affected by wearing glasses than social media. It’s really time to be a bit more critical than just quoting random stats and scaring people. What do we do online? Why? What is the impact comparing to other areas of life? When asked how tech affects people, people jump into negative bias. The moment we ask them – what else affects their lives in a negative way and how does tech compare to it – the answers are very different. Are we asking balanced questions – both positive and negative impact – or frame the research with our own assumptions. We need to ask the right, contextual questions. Most people are just fine online, but a list like this does not help any specific solutions for those underprivileged who indeed struggle online, or even in gaining access to the web. Especially in 2021.

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Digital wellbeing covers the latest scientific research on the impact of digital technology on human wellbeing. Curated by psychologist Dr. Paul Marsden (@marsattacks). Sponsored by WPP agency SYZYGY.