South Africans locked on to their screens for a record 10+ hours a day

A young South African man locked into the digital world. Picture: Unsplash

A young South African man locked into the digital world. Picture: Unsplash

Published Mar 1, 2024


New technologies such as mobile and interactive screen media are now ingrained in everyday life. On the quest to stay connected with each other and keep up with the latest information on the internet, the majority of people around the world are always locked on to their screens on their cellphones, computers and televisions.

According to Exploding Topics, the average person spends about 6 hours and 58 minutes of screen time per day globally and daily screen time around the world has increased by nearly 50 minutes per day since 2013.

The majority of stats prove what the world already knows, that Gen Z averages around 9 hours of screen time per day and that almost half of children born today are digital natives, with almost half (49%) of 0 to 2-year-olds interacting with smartphones.

The blog site says that while Americans spend about 7 hours and 4 minutes gazing at a screen each day, South Africans spend 10 hours and 46 minutes on the screen per day, which is the highest in the world.

While the Philippines, Brazil and Colombia each average 10+ hours per day too highlighting that people spent 44% of their waking hours looking at a screen on average. Here are the top most active screen time users:

1. South Africa (10 hours and 46 minutes)

2. Philippines (10 hours 27 mins)

3. Brazil (10 hours 19 mins)

4. Colombia (10 hours 3 mins)

5. Argentina (9 hours 38 mins)

6. Malaysia (9 hours 10 mins)

7. Thailand (9 hours 6 mins)

8. Mexico (8 hours 55 mins)

9. Indonesia (8 hours 37 mins)

10. United Arab Emirates (8 hours 36 mins)

Of the 10 hours and 46 minutes South Africans spent on their screens, 5 hours and 9 minutes is allocated towards mobile screen time, while 5 hours, 37 minutes goes towards computer screen time.

So what do people do when they are glued to their screens? The four activities that are common when it comes to screen time include using the internet, streaming or watching TV, using social media and using game consoles.

The data highlighted that South Africans spend 96.6% of their time streaming and about 3 hours and 43 minutes on social media.

Too much of a good thing can be bad for you and always being locked onto your screen can have detrimental effects. An abundance of screen time can lead to sleep deprivation as blue light interferes with melatonin production and disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm.

Other side-effects to copious amounts of screen time include obesity, as data shows a strong association between screen time and obesity in children aged 5 to 17, most likely due to the sedentary nature of viewing a screen.

There’s also a link to susceptibility to Type 2 Diabetes as a study in the UK found that children aged between 9 and 10 who spend 3+ hours on the screen each day were more likely to show resistance to insulin.

While spending too much time on the screen could result in delayed learning, young children who watch excessive amounts of TV can also experience difficulties picking up the language.