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Internet usage in the United States - Statistics & Facts

The internet has become one of the most vital tools for communication, information, and entertainment in today’s globalized world. As of 2020, more than half of the global population is connected to the internet, and while some regions still lack the infrastructure that is needed to provide sufficient online coverage, others are seeing internet penetration rates of close to 100 percent. Among the largest online markets in the world, the United States ranks third with over 313 million active internet users nationwide. As a global hub of technological innovation and home to some of the world’s leading internet companies, the United States has increased its digital population for over two decades. Today, over 85 percent of Americans have access to the internet, many of whom could no longer imagine a life without it.

Online behavior in the United States

From learning and working to shopping and dating – the internet has transformed and digitized many aspects of everyday personal and professional life. In the United States, some of the most popular digital activities include the use of e-mail, search engines, video streaming platforms, and social networks. Home to many social media giants, the country sees a particularly high demand for social networking platforms and apps. As of 2020, the number of social network users in the United States stood at 223 million, with Facebook remaining the leading social media website.

Cutting the chord: the rise of mobile internet

Seeing that most social media and instant messaging platforms are available via app, it comes as no surprise that internet usage is shifting towards mobile access. As of 2020, almost 50 percent of web traffic in the United States originated from mobile devices, and according to the latest data, the number of mobile internet users in the United States is forecast to surpass 290 million by 2024. Even so, smartphone users not only use their mobile devices to browse through TikTok or Instagram but also to make purchases on the go. Mobile retail commerce or m-commerce sales are seeing constant growth in the United States, and so are the numbers of mobile digital buyers.

How COVID-19 has impacted internet usage

With schools, offices, shops, restaurants, and nearly all public gatherings called off amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Americans had to move many parts of their lives online. Since early 2020, social media platforms, videoconferencing services, and other forms of digital communication have seen a significant boost in downloads and engagement, as these platforms have become substitutes for personal encounters, during a time of social distancing. However, COVID-19 is not only re-shaping the nature and extent of online usage in the United States, but also highlighting the digital divide. While the offline population in the United States is continuously shrinking, millions of households still lack internet access. As a majority of school children depend on online material to learn, and many workers have to perform their duties remotely, this digital disparity is hitting several demographics particularly hard.

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Internet usage in the United States

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Internet usage

Social media

Mobile internet and apps

Online and mobile commerce


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