South Africans have the worst screen time in the world

 ·20 Apr 2024

South Africans are addicted to their screens, with the highest percentage of their day spent on their phones worldwide.

According to a study by the tech website Electronics Hub, South Africans spend 56.8% of their awake hours a day looking at screens, at 9 hours and 24 minutes.

The study uses data from DataReportal (2024) and Sleep Cycle, with Electronics Hub ranking countries based on different types of screen time across various devices and media platforms.

“We’re a planet addicted to our screens,” said Electronics Hub.

“It’s not a new problem—worrying about how much television time we clock up has been around since the 1950s—but with so many screens, binge-able shows, and addictive apps jostling for our attention, it’s no wonder that nearly one in two people in the US say they have an addiction to their digital devices.”

For many, screen time is now an unavoidable part of their working day, while for others, it’s something close to an emotional crutch for the end of the workday.

Overall, South Africans spend 11 minutes more on average looking at their screens than second-placed Brazil.

Many emerging economies are notably high in the rankings, with the Philippines (52.28% of their awake hours), Colombia (51.43%), and Argentina (51.81%) completing the top 5.

Japan has the least screen time, at 22.76% of their awake hours.

South Africans, in particular, spent a higher percentage (31.72%) of their day looking at their phones, with an average screen time of 5 hours and 15 minutes.

Brazil, again, comes in second, with 31.57% of their wake hours on their phones.

Phone-specific screen time is often higher in poorer, emerging markets, where mobile phones, and not personal computers, are the primary and most affordable way to access the internet.

Despite not leading the rankings, South Africans also spend much of their day watching TV.

South Africans spend 4 hours and 5 minutes watching TV a day (24.67%)

This only trails the USA, where the average daily screen time is 4 hours and 39 minutes (28.35%).

Brazil comes in third (24.15%), followed by the UK (24.04%) and Chile (22.30%).

When it comes to television, the US leads — the average American watches TV for 28.35%
of their waking day.

Regarding computers, people in Russia spend the most time of any country on their computers (27.07%).

South Africa again comes in second, with the daily average screen time working out to four hours and 5 minutes, working out 25.08% of one’s day.

One area where South Africa does not feature high on the rankings is gaming.

Saudi Arabia is at the top of the list, with a daily average screen time of 1 hour and 43 minutes (10.02%).

Thailand (9.99%) and the USA (8.03%) follow complete the top three.

South Africa, on the other hand, comes in 16th, with an average daily screen time of 57 minutes (5.74% of one’s awake hours.)

Although affordable mobile phones and accessible internet have made screen time a dominant part of daily life worldwide, gaming is still quite cost-prohibitive and is far more prevalent in richer countries.

Read: ‘Sad picture’ for South Africa’s economy

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