May 21, 2022

New Data About Smartphone and Internet Usage in 40 Countries Now Available From Pew Research Center

A new report, “Smartphone Ownership and Internet Usage Continues to Climb in Emerging Economies: But Advanced Economies Still Have Higher Rates Of Technology Use'” was published today by the Pew Research Center.

From the Report’s Overview:

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, both economically and socially, technology adoption remains one of the defining factors in human progress. To that end, there has been a noticeable rise over the past two years in the percentage of people in the emerging and developing nations surveyed by Pew Research Center who say that they use the internet and own a smartphone. And while people in advanced economies still use the internet more and own more high-tech gadgets, the rest of the emerging world is catching up.

For smartphone ownership, the digital divide between less advanced economies and developed economies is 31 points in 2015. But smartphone ownership rates in emerging and developing nations are rising at an extraordinary rate, climbing from a median of 21% in 2013 to 37% in 2015. And overwhelming majorities in almost every nation surveyed report owning some form of mobile device, even if they are not considered “smartphones.”

Once online, 76% of internet users across the 40 countries surveyed use social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. And the most avid social networkers are found in regions with lower internet rates. Roughly three-quarters or more of internet users in the Middle East (86%), Latin America (82%) and Africa (76%) say they use social networks, compared with 71% in the U.S. and 65% across six European nations.

Overall, internet users in emerging and developing countries are more likely to use social media compared with those in the developed world. It is important to remember, however, that internet access rates in the emerging and developing world still trail those of advanced economies, so the number of people participating in social networking is still smaller as a share of the total population in many of these emerging countries.

Other key findings from our survey include:

  • Smartphone ownership rates have skyrocketed in many countries since 2013. This includes increases of over 25 percentage points among the total population in large emerging economies such as Turkey (+42 points), Malaysia (+34), Chile (+26) and Brazil (+26).
  • In a number of emerging and developing countries, more people have access to the internet and are also using it more frequently. In 12 emerging nations surveyed in 2014 and 2015, there were significant increases in the share of adult internet users who say they access the internet several times a day, including in Nigeria (+20 points), Ghana (+19) and China (+13).
  • There are gender gaps on many aspects of technology use. For example, in 20 nations, men are more likely than women to use the internet. These differences are especially stark in African nations. Elsewhere, equal shares of men and women use the internet. But large gender gaps also appear on reported smartphone ownership (men are more likely to own a smartphone) in many countries, including Mexico (+16), Nigeria (+13), Kenya (+12) and Ghana (+12).

Direct to Full Text Report ||| Direct to PDF Version of Report (45 pages)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.