We’re Spending Less of Our Online Time with Social Media

March 20, 2023

Time spent online has increased by 12% over the past 3 years, and the average American adult internet user will dedicate about 4.5 hours of their day to using the internet via desktop or mobile, according to a presentation [download page] from Comscore. As time spent online has risen, though, social media has taken an increasingly smaller role.

Comscore’s data shows that among adults, 15% of time spent online in December 2022 was spent with social media. That represents the third consecutive year-over-year decline, down from 22% share in December 2019.

By contrast, Entertainment takes the largest portion of adults’ time online, eating up 28% share. What’s interesting with the Entertainment category is that the pandemic may have led to a shift in consumption habits: in December 2019, just prior to the pandemic, Entertainment accounted for 21% share of online time (slightly trailing social media). By December of the following year, Entertainment had ballooned to 29% share, stealing from time spent with social media, services, and others. Since then, however, Entertainment’s share of online time has stayed flat, even dropping a point in December 2022 from a year earlier.

Within the Entertainment category, Comscore highlights the appeal of streaming audio sites and apps, which account for half of the daily time spent with the category. Previous research from Comscore has shown that time spent with streaming audio grew during the first year of the pandemic.

One in 4 smartphone users listens to a podcast in a typical week, according to Comscore, with Advice and Self-Help the category with the widest reach, followed by Comedy and Music.

As for social media, Comscore points to the popularity of short-form video, which agencies have pegged to be most impactful trend of 2023. Maybe it was the most impactful of 2022 instead: Reels actions accounted for the majority of engagement levels, surpassing Carousels, which had been the primary content format in 2021.

The number of actions/likes almost doubled year-over-year in 2022 for Instagram Reels (+91%) and TikTok (+93%), and was also up sharply for YouTube Shorts (+70%).

In other, bigger picture highlights from the presentation:

  • The internet universe has grown to 239 million adult digital users, comprising 91% of the population, as the digital population grew at twice the speed of the total population since 2019.
  • Of the 23 trillion minutes spent online last year, 81% share were mobile-only versus 19% desktop-only, with mobile’s share growing from 78% in 2019.
  • The total number of unique visitors (UVs) to the internet as measured by Comscore was 275 million in December 2022, up from 263 million 3 years earlier.
  • The number of social media UVs (+26 million to 256 million), gaming site/app UVs (+15 million to 229 million) and CTV households (+27 million to 89 million) also grew.
  • There were an equal amount of cord-cutters (43% share) as pay-TV subscribers (also 43% share) last year for the first time, with the remaining being cord-nevers (13% share).

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