How Much Time Do We Spend on The Internet?

Internet Dependency in Modern American Culture

The last decade has been a time of great upheaval in the average way of life. Advances in technology, an influx of ways to spend one’s time online, and a global pandemic forcing everyone inside are just some of the myriad reasons why the population is more internet-dependent than ever before.  

It’s one thing to know that people are spending more time online, but another to understand where this time is being spent and what opportunities that presents for a marketer. In this blog we’ll share stats and info on where exactly your audience is pointing their attention, so that you can place your brands in front of their eyes and ears.

Device Usage Overview

The internet has penetrated every crevice of our lives, and our homes are certainly no exception. In 2023, the average US household has 22 internet connected devices (Deloitte).These devices and how users interact with them may vary, but the common theme is that users are dependent on the internet. In fact, the average American spends over 13 hours per day interacting with digital media (Forbes).

We could go on and on and on with stats about just how pervasive the internet has become in modern culture… and we will!

Here are a few more stats to drive home the importance the internet holds in our lives: 

  • 93% of all Americans use the internet (Zippia)
  • 90% of US households have internet service (Leichtman Research Group)
  • 88.6% of the US population over 18 uses social media (Data Reportal), and they average 176 minutes per day on it!


The introduction of the smartphone in the 2000s marked a monumental shift in modern culture. This is because of how mobile internet-devices allowed the internet to expand from a cool resource primarily used for work and education to a daily essential for all walks of life. The smartphone is your own personal window to the digital world, small enough to fit in your pocket.

Smartphone ownership changed from 35% in 2011 to 85% by 2021 (Pew). No longer just a luxury, smartphones have become a necessity.  This is primarily because the technology has allowed for us to expedite most of our day-to-day processes. Whether it's communicating with friends and family, checking the weather, banking, ordering products/services, looking up information, or anything else, the internet and our phones have made these actions quicker. 

Our lives have been completely changed because of these devices. The average American spends 145 minutes per day on their smartphone  (Zippia).If you exclude children under 16 and elderly over 65, that number balloons all the way up to 208 minutes (Data Reportal).

Smart TVs

The internet has also changed what we watch for entertainment, and how we watch. Not only has streaming TV surpassed cable in viewership, but there has also emerged an abundance of new alternatives to traditional television. YouTube, live streaming services (Twitch, FacebookLive), and content streaming platforms (Netflix, Hulu) have introduced many new ways for viewers to watch. While viewer attention is segmented across many streaming platforms, they can all be viewed on one device, a smart TV.

Here's a quick overview on the state of streaming content:

  • 78% of US Households subscribe to at least one streaming service (Forbes) (Has grown from 52% in 2015)
  • The average American spends 3.1 hours per day streaming video (Forbes)
  • YouTube ads reach 72.5% of the US population (Data Reportal)

Clearly, video streaming is huge. Where cable once dominated the video landscape, it has now been fractured and spread out across several different mediums. If the industry has changed, it only makes sense for our marketing to also. It doesn’t serve your brand to only be advertising on cable broadcasts, that spend should be spread out reaching your audience anywhere they watch content.

Some marketers fear this switch to streaming, but they shouldn’t! From a marketing perspective, streaming is an amazing tool to reach your audience. Streaming offers targeting at a user level, opposed to the programmatic level of cable. You can target users based off demographic, behavioral, and viewing data, reaching your exact desired customer no matter what they’re watching.

Additionally, streaming platforms are becoming more and more advertiser friendly. Most streamers are switching to an ad-first model, adding lower cost ad-supported plans and raising the cost of ad-free subscriptions. As a viewer this can be frustrating, but as an advertiser it creates opportunity.


While most of our internet dependency is channeled through our smartphones, they don’t completely diminish the importance of computers(desktops & laptops). In fact, 37.9% of US web traffic is still from a desktop (Similarweb).This may not be as high as mobile usage, but it certainly isn’t negligible.

Desktop computer usage isn’t likely to die anytime soon. As of 2023, 45% of households have at least one member working at least partially from home (Deloitte). This was a complete impossibility before the internet. Companies are realizing the benefits of working from home and as a result screen times are higher than ever.

Beyond work, there are many uses for desktops. A huge one is gaming. PC gaming is a $30+ billion industry. There are more people gaming today than ever, both young and old. The games themselves and tangential content on live streaming sites and YouTube are just a few of the many new avenues for non-traditional home entertainment.

Additional Home Devices

Phones, TVs, and Computers take up most of our screen time, but they aren’t the only internet-connected devices in our homes. It’s almost astonishing how many of the devices we use offer internet-connectivity. Here are some examples:

  • Home Devices & Smart-Speakers
  • Tablets
  • Readers
  • Game Consoles

Beyond the devices we use for entertainment, a lot of the essential appliances of our homes have become connected. Home security systems can be activated and monitored from your phone. Your home’s lights can be flipped and dimmed remotely. There are even smart-fridges now that keep an inventory of what’s inside.

Everywhere you look you can see how the internet is shaping our world around us.


The internet has changed our world. The ways we work and relax (and the dead moments in between) have all been taken over by our dependence on our connected devices. This isn’t breaking news to anyone, but sometimes it can seem like it to marketers. If we’re spending much of our waking moments interacting with digital media, then shouldn’t our advertising be digital? 

Many agencies and businesses who have been around a while stick with traditional marketing channels because they’re tried and true. These channels (cable TV, print media, radio, etc.) have always worked for them so why wouldn’t they now? They may be right that they still see some results from these channels, but we couldn’t recommend spending advertising money on anything but digital.

There are two primary reasons why digital advertising is superior. The first is that digital advertising allows you to target at a user level, greatly exceeding the capabilities of most traditional channels’ targeting. The second reason digital marketing is better has been the point of this entire article. People spend more time interacting with digital media than they do traditional. If you want your brand to drive recognition and sales, you must be where your audience is, and likely they are online.

If you want to discuss what digital tactics may work for your brand reach out today!



Isaiah hates PowerPoint but he loves the Dolphins. The team. Not the animal. He's clear about that.

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