Increased connectivity and smartphone usage has been followed by an increase in people using social networking sites, around the world. Some trends follow patterns according to demographics across most countries, and others widely differ.


Social networking is an integral part of Internet usage all over the globe, and has become a global trend. Many of the countries that were studied by the Pew Internet project showed similar penetration levels that we are accustomed to seeing in the US: social networking use is higher for younger age groups, people who own smartphones, or have a college education. But depending on geographical region or country, there are big differences in how people use social networking, such as what subjects they discuss. In other cases, demographics create bigger gaps in some countries than in others.

From sharing pop culture, to discussing politics and local issues

Globally, sharing opinions on social networking sites most often involves music and movies, according to the median level across 20 countries in this study - 67 percent of the global social networking population discusses these topics online. Somewhat popular are talking about community issues (46 percent) and sports (43 percent), and a bit less still is politics at 34 percent. Religion is only discussed by 14 percent of respondents. But the rates differ greatly when considering specific areas of the world. In Egypt and Tunisia, over 60 percent of social networkers share political views online. This type of diverting from global rates continues for community issues; Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan all shared about this topic at rates between 74 and 82 percent.

Social usage gap widens in some countries according to age or other criteria

Just as in the US, younger age groups use social networking sites more often, all over the world. But though the gap between the youngest age group (18-29) and oldest age group (over 50) is 52 percentage points, some countries have a much higher gap. Particularly in Italy, Poland, Britain and Greece, the gap is between 70 and 78 percent. Additionally, while smartphone users are very likely to use social networking (in the US, 60 percent do), they are even more so in countries like Egypt, Mexico, and Greece that all have much higher rates - 79, 74 and 72 percent, respectively. To contrast, only 45 percent of Japanese smartphone users and 31 percent of Chinese participate in this usage.

By Ivory King