28 Alarming Tech Addiction Statistics You Should Know in 2021

Technology has improved our lives beyond all expectations and given us unprecedented access to information and entertainment. But technology is also highly addictive and has thus gradually taken control over many people’s lives.

In this overview of the latest tech addiction statistics, we’ll examine if people can manage this problem themselves or if we’re facing a more serious public health crisis. You’ll learn about the current technology usage trends and see how this issue affects children and teens, especially in the context of social media and mental health.

Top Tech Addiction Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • 6% of the global population is addicted to the internet.
  • People touch their phones 2,617 times per day.
  • An average American spends more than 17 hours each day looking at screens.
  • 31% of US adults say they’re “always online.”
  • Internet addicts are more likely to have other mental health problems.
  • Video game addicts are 57% more likely to suffer from depression than non-gamers.
  • 17% of internet addicts have ADHD as a co-occurring disorder.
  • An average user will spend more than 1 year and 6 months of their life on Facebook.
  • 55% of US drivers admit to checking social media on their phones while driving.
  • 47% of parents think their child has a technology addiction.

Essential Technology Addiction Statistics

1. There are multiple types of tech addiction.

(Interesting Engineering)

When experts talk about tech addiction, they typically refer to internet addiction. However, tech addiction facts reveal this term is much broader. It also includes online gaming, social media, internet gambling, cybersex or porn addiction, and smartphone overuse.

The internet is a fruitful space for sparking many addictive behaviors. And for each of these, people need at least one device. So while internet addiction might be an addiction to some type of content rather than the tech itself, it’s always mediated by technology. This last fact is crucial in fully understanding people’s dependence on technology, statistics suggest.

2. The number of internet users has increased by more than 1000% over the last 20 years.

(Internet World Stats)

From 458 million in 2001 to nearly 5.2 billion in 2021, the number of internet users has gone up by a staggering 1028% over the last two decades. With so many users worldwide, the demand for internet-connected devices has been on a steady rise during the same period. All this has created a fertile ground for internet and technology dependence, statistics show.

3. 6% of the global population is addicted to the internet.

(Business Insider)

Official data on the number of internet addicts is scarce. However, a 2014 study — the latest one conducted on this subject — found that about 6% of people worldwide could be qualified as addicts. With the world’s population estimated at 7.9 billion in 2021, this means that as many as 474 million people around the globe are addicted to the internet.

4. According to statistics about technology use, 71% of people keep their phones within reach while sleeping.

(Mediakix, The Atlantic, NCBI)

Worrisome as it is, this behavior can be interpreted as an indication of a developing tech addiction or its result. Either way, it could have a severely detrimental effect on people’s sleep. For example, one study found that the number of sleep-deprived teens in the US had grown by 57% between 1970 and 2015. Similarly, a 2021 Chinese study pointed to pre-bed phone usage as the primary cause of poor sleep quality in teenagers and young adults.

5. People touch their phones 2,617 times a day, phone addiction statistics reveal.

(Dscout)

On average, this translates to more than 950,000 swipes, clicks, and taps per year. For most people, this is a habit — repetitive behavior signaling an obsessive need to stay in the loop with all the content appearing on their phone. As such, they will reach for their phones even if they haven’t heard a notification sound and don’t plan to use it at that moment.

6. An average American spends more than 17 hours each day looking at screens.

(Study Finds)

Technology statistics clearly show people are glued to screens. It’s no surprise, seeing as they use devices for most of their daily activities. However, the number of hours they spend in front of screens has gone up considerably since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent small-scale survey found that Americans watch TV for 4 hours and 30 minutes every day and spend another 5 hours in front of their computers. Add to that 4 hours and 30 minutes spent on a smartphone and more than 3 hours playing video games, and it turns out an average American spends all their waking hours — more than 17 — in front of screens.

7. 31% of US adults say they’re “always online.”

(Pew Research Center)

Since 2015, the number of American adults who say they’re “always online” has almost doubled. According to statistics on technology usage, only 17% of them were this active in 2015, compared to the 31% who report being “constantly online” in 2021.

8. Young, college-educated people from high-income households are the most avid internet users.

(Pew Research Center)

Tech addiction stats from 2021 reveal that 48% of the people who are “always online” fall into the 18–29 age group, and 42% of them have a college degree. They’re also better off financially, as 40% earn $75,000 a year or more.

Most of them live in urban (37%) and suburban (30%) areas. Gender isn’t much of a factor, as both men (32%) and women (30%) are almost equally active. However, there are some differences in terms of race — namely, Blacks (37%) and Hispanics (36%) are the most active. Meanwhile, white Americans account for just 28% of the most avid internet users.

9. 85% of Americans use the internet daily.

(Pew Research Center)

In addition to the 31% of US adults who are online almost always, technology dependence statistics show that 48% go online several times a day, while 6% do it at least once a day. On the other hand, 7% of American adults say they don’t use the internet at all.

Tech Addiction Facts: Mental Health and Tech Use

10. Internet addiction disorder (IAD) isn’t yet officially recognized.

(NCBI)

Since 2012, psychologists and psychiatrists have continuously provided scientific evidence that IAD should be officially recognized as a serious medical condition. Their goal is to have it included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

But even though the medical community — backed with extensive technology addiction data — acknowledges its severity, the disorder hasn’t yet been recognized as such. Inevitably, this lack of official recognition is also slowing down the development of treatment options.

11. Internet addicts are more likely to have other mental health problems.

(ScienceDirect)

People prone to overuse of technology, statistics say, are also more likely to have other mental health disorders. For example, a study found that these people have higher levels of anxiety and depression than those not addicted to the internet. Furthermore, they also have difficulties in forging emotional relationships, which could potentially harm their family life.

12. Internet addiction and depression often coincide.

(NICS Well)

While there haven’t been any large-scale studies on the matter, a smaller UK study found a link between depression and internet addiction. According to the findings, people who spent more time on the internet had higher depression scores. Similarly, those with higher levels of depression were also more active online. Scientists are now facing the old chicken-and-egg dilemma: do depressed people seek solace online, or does addiction spark their depression?

13. Video game addicts are 57% more likely to suffer from depression than non-addicts, electronic addiction facts reveal.

(The Recovery Village)

Gaming addicts are more prone to depression than non-gamers, but they are also more likely to suffer from other mental issues. According to research, they have a 40% higher risk of developing antisocial personality disorder and 27% higher chances of suffering from other addictions, including substance abuse. Additionally, video game addicts are 13% more likely to have ADHD, while all the time spent inside increases their risk of social anxiety by 10%.

14. Although highly addictive, porn doesn’t have a significant effect on people’s mental health.

(Statista, UdeMNouvelles)

Statistics on technology use suggest that porn and other adult content account for 20% of all mobile and 13% of all web searches. Porn is also highly addictive, with 87% of US men and 28.5% of women saying they watch this type of content at least once a week.

Interestingly, even though so many people are frequent porn consumers, it doesn’t seem to impact their mental health significantly. Namely, a small-scale Hungarian study found that only 14%–22% of porn addicts say the addiction has started negatively affecting their lives. While these numbers don’t seem so insignificant, they indicate that anywhere between 78% and 86% of frequent porn consumers don’t experience any adverse mental health effects.

15. 17% of internet addicts have ADHD as a co-occurring disorder.

(The Recovery Village)

Internet addiction facts suggest that this type of behavior encourages other underlying disorders to “stick around.” Besides ADHD, currently the most prevalent co-occurring disorder, internet addicts also show symptoms of other mental health problems. These include generalized and social anxiety disorder (15%), borderline personality disorder (14%), hypomania and obsessive-compulsive disorder (7% each), and binge-eating disorder (2%).

Tech Addiction Statistics - Social Media Apps

Social Media and Tech Addiction Statistics

16. 55.1% of the global population uses social media.

(DataReportal)

According to technology addiction statistics from April 2021, the number of social media users worldwide has gone up by 13.7% year-over-year. On average, they spend 2 hours and 22 minutes a day browsing social media platforms. Of course, this is just an average; many users, especially teenagers and young adults, spend considerably more time on these sites.

And while most of them use social media to keep in touch with others, many are just looking for entertaining content, which can be highly addictive. Social media developers are aware of this and continue coming up with new ways of keeping users glued to their screens. With algorithms serving each user an endless stream of content cherry-picked just for them, the average time spent on social media is bound to increase in the coming years.

17. In lesser-known screen addiction facts, social media is designed to encourage addictive behavior.

(UX Collective)

What makes people constantly check their social media apps, even if they haven’t received a notification? The psychology of social media is very simple — it provides users with validation and positive reinforcement of their behavior. And this in itself is very addictive.

Every time a user receives a notification — be it for a like, a comment, or any other type of engagement from others — they see it as an achievement. This sends a signal to the brain to keep repeating the same behavior over and over again, as it will lead to even more reinforcement and feelings of pleasure. This is how people develop social media obsession, statistics show. But whether this is unethical or a great business model is up for debate.

18. At the current pace, an average user will spend over 1 year and 6 months on Facebook during their lifetime.

(Statista, MacroTrends)

According to technology use statistics, users spend 35 minutes a day on Facebook. With the average life expectancy currently at 72.81 years and people as young as 10 now using the site, they could spend 1 year 6 months and 11 days of their lives on Facebook.

The numbers are similar for TikTok and Twitter, both of which average 33 minutes per day. Instagram isn’t far behind, with 28 minutes per day. So, if we assume an average person regularly uses two platforms, this means they’ll spend 3 years of their lives on social media.

19. Young, single females are most prone to social media addiction.

(ScienceDirect)

A recent study involving more than 23,500 people aged 16–88 found that young, single women make up 17.5% of all social media addicts. The authors noted that most people addicted to social media suffer from low self-esteem, and the attention they receive from their followers helps them overcome this. Narcissistic personality disorder is also a common trait of social media addicts — the validation they receive from others helps feed their ego.

20. Only 1% of Americans aged 55 and over report suffering from social media addiction, statistics show.

(Statista)

Even though older generations don’t use social media much, it’s still interesting that only 1% of them say they are “completely” and another 21% “somewhat” addicted to it. Young users show much higher levels of addiction — 15% of those aged 23–38 are “completely” and 37% “somewhat” addicted. Overall, 9% of US adults are “completely” addicted to social media.

21. 55% of US drivers admit to checking social media on their phones while driving.

(DriversEd.com, Drive Safer)

Social media addiction isn’t just hard on the addicts themselves — it can also cause harm to others. With 55% of drivers checking their social media behind the wheel and 25% saying they’ve recorded a video while driving, the negative effects of technology extend to reduced traffic safety. This is very dangerous, as drivers react 38% more slowly when distracted by smartphones. For comparison, drunk driving slows their reaction time by just 12%.

Technology Addiction Statistics: Children and Teens

22. 45% of US teenagers say they’re almost always online.

(Statista)

American teenagers don’t see being online all the time as overuse of technology, facts reveal. It’s just their way of life. As such, it’s no surprise to learn that another 44% of them say they go online several times a day, while the remaining 11% do so less often. On the other hand, US adults are less active — 26% are always online and 43% a few times a day.

23. MRI scans of children using screens for more than 7 hours per day show significant brain changes.

(A Total Approach)

A recent study that observed 9–10-year-olds for two years found that those who spent more than 7 hours a day using smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles had developed visible brain changes. One of the changes observed in a typical young technology addict was the thinning of the cortex, which is premature for this age. In addition, kids who spent more than 2 hours a day in front of screens had lower language and thinking test scores.

24. 47% of parents think their child has a technology addiction, statistics show.

(PCMag)

According to a recent survey, 47% of US parents are worried their child may be addicted to their smartphone. Worse yet, 50% believe their kid’s excessive smartphone use is negatively affecting their mental health. Parents are most concerned with YouTube — 35% think it’s not safe for kids, while 61% say their child often stumbles upon unsuitable content on the site.

25. 89% of parents believe they’re responsible for their child’s technology use.

(Common Sense Media)

While it’s easy to classify parents of tech-addicted kids as negligent, facts about technology addiction paint a different picture. In a recent poll, 89% said it was their responsibility to limit the time their kids spend using digital devices. However, there is a problem — namely, 32% of parents think they’re suffering from cell phone addiction themselves, statistics show.

26. Smartphone addiction affects teenagers the most.

(Mediakix)

Teens spend up to 9 hours per day checking their social media accounts. Also, according to mobile phone usage statistics, 10% of them check their phones at least 10 times during the night. This doesn’t only affect their sleep quality — a study found that teens who use their phones for 5 hours per day are twice as likely to experience depression as those who do it in moderation. What’s more, girls have a 58% higher risk of exhibiting depressive symptoms.

27. Teens who spend more than 5 hours a day on their phones are 71% more likely to exhibit some suicide risk factors.

(NPR)

Besides depression, smartphone addiction statistics point to suicidal thoughts and suicide plans as other common risk factors in these teenagers. Interestingly, the type of content they consume is irrelevant to this finding — it’s all about the time spent on their phones. Experts say that up to an hour of screen time a day is optimal for preserving teens’ mental health.

28. 40% of teens report they’ve been cyberbullied on social media.

(Statista)

While teens don’t have to be social media addicts to fall victim to cyberbullying, prolonged exposure and increased social contact make this scenario more likely. Technology addiction facts also suggest that addiction to social media can seriously impact teenagers’ emotional wellbeing. As such, 54% of them report feeling bad if their post doesn’t get enough likes.

In Conclusion

Technology is a textbook example of a double-edged sword — for all the good it has brought us, it has also made many people’s lives worse. Technology addiction statistics show that we spend nearly all our waking hours glued to screens and touch our phones 2,617 times a day.

At the same time, a growing body of research shows this overuse of technology is taking a toll on our mental health. Children and teenagers are particularly prone to these adverse effects, but adults aren’t resistant to them either. Tech addiction is quickly becoming a global public health issue. But with technology being integral to everything we do — from work to leisure, it’s next-to-impossible to predict what the solution to this problem might be.

FAQ

Is technology a new addiction?

Ever since there’s been technology, there have also been people addicted to it. However, it wasn’t as prevalent until digital devices and the internet became widely available. With the rise of video gaming, streaming, and smartphones over the last 20 years, more and more people started developing behavioral patterns similar to those linked to other addictions.

Why is tech so addictive?

Modern digital technology is built to enhance and mediate our behavioral patterns based on positive reinforcement.  Every time we use a piece of tech to consume content, our brain registers it as pleasure — especially if we get likes, comments, and notifications from others. Based on that experience, our brains are “programmed” to keep repeating this behavior, as it will give us even more reinforcement from others and, thus, more pleasure.

What are the effects of technology addiction?

There are multiple adverse effects of tech addiction. For one, experts note that it can worsen the symptoms of other existing mental health issues like depression, anxiety, ADHD, and personality disorders. Addicts will typically experience mood swings, insomnia, and anxiety. They’ll also often have relationship issues with their family, friends, and others. Finally, tech addiction also causes changes in people’s brain structure, as evidenced in a recent study.

What percent of the population is addicted to technology in 2021?

Scientific data on tech addiction is hard to come by, as it’s a type of behavior that is difficult to diagnose and track in a larger population. But according to a 2014 study — the latest conducted on such a large scale — 6% of the world’s population is addicted to technology.

How many people are tech addicts?

About 6% of people worldwide suffer from tech addiction, statistics reveal. As of early 2021, the world’s population stands at 7.9 billion. This means that at least 474 million people around the world can be qualified as tech addicts. However, it’s worth noting that the 6% estimate dates back to 2014, just around the time smartphones were starting to become a standard. With that in mind, the actual number of tech addicts is likely considerably higher.

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