Photograph — Huffington Post

In an age where digital technology reigns supreme, it comes as no surprise that people around the world are spending more and more time online. However, a recent study conducted by Delaware-based virtual private network (VPN) platform Atlas VPN reveals that South Africans are leading the charge, spending an average of 9.5 hours a day online – a staggering three hours more than the global average.

The study, which collated data from social media research firm We Are Social and social media intelligence platform Meltwater, covered users aged between 16 and 64 in 46 countries. According to the report, the average time a person spent browsing the internet in 2022 was six hours and 37 minutes per day.

But why South Africa? It turns out that the country has seen a significant increase in internet access over the past few years, with up to 70% of South Africans having access to the web in 2020, according to World Bank data. With internet penetration continuing to rise across the African continent, it’s no surprise that South Africans are spending more time online than ever before.

In fact, by 2023, South Africa had 43.48 million internet users, representing a penetration rate of 72.3%. The government has set a target of ensuring web access to all South African homes by 2024, indicating that this trend is set to continue.

While South Africa’s internet speed may be below the global average, it’s getting faster. In 2021, the country’s digital quality of life was ranked 68th globally. Mobile and broadband internet affordability in the country, along with its mobile internet stability, were among the best in Africa.

According to the Atlas VPN study, the top five reasons people spend time online are to get information (57.8%), stay in touch with friends and family (53.7%), keep up to date with news and events (50.9%), watch videos (49.7%), and learn new skills (47.6%).

It’s interesting to note that South Africa is not alone in its internet addiction. Brazil, the Philippines, Argentina, and Colombia – all spend an average of more than nine hours a day online, closely following South Africa. The report also reveals that people in the United States and Singapore dedicate an above-average amount of time to Internet browsing.

On the other hand, some European countries such as Denmark, Austria, and Germany spend less time online than the global average. Meanwhile, East Asian countries such as China and Japan lag behind the rest of the world in terms of time spent online.

As the world moves past the Covid phase, the average time spent online has been decreasing globally. However, South Africans and other internet addicts around the world continue to log on, seeking information, connection, and entertainment in equal measure.

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