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Internet usage in Italy - statistics & facts

Italians are embracing the internet, with levels of digitalization in the country experiencing a constant increase in the latest years. At the beginning of 2021, the number of active internet users in Italy reportedly counted more than 50.5 million. While Italy still occupies a lower position in the ranking of most digitalized countries in the European Union, its share of internet users has grown constantly, reaching 73.3 percent of the country’s population in 2020.

Between 2015 and 2020, the number of internet users based in the south of Italy increased by more than 27 percent, a sign that the existing digitalization gap between the south of the country and other geographical areas might be starting to decrease. Among the reasons for not using the internet, lack of skills appears to be the main deterring factor in Italian households, followed by lack of interest in the media. Students and professionals reportedly have the highest share of internet users in the country, while only smaller shares of Italian homemakers used the internet daily, while pensioners were the occupational group least likely to use the internet daily in 2020.

As of the third quarter of 2020, nine in ten internet users in Italy were engaging with online videos monthly, with users spending almost 19 minutes per session watching content on YouTube’s website. The increase in popularity of entertainment websites is a direct consequence of the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic in the country, with the pandemic causing a 50 percent audience growth in the days after the March 2020 lockdown mandates. While video streaming websites and OTT platforms have remained one of the most popular website categories for internet users in Italy even beyond the immediate effect of the COVID-19 outbreak, search websites were used by more than 94 percent of Italy's digital audiences. Both Google.com and the country-specific domain Google.it ranked among the most visited websites from users based in Italy, with Google.com amassing more than two billion visits in December 2020.

Social media usage

In March 2021, Facebook was the social media platform in Italy recording the highest number of users, amassing roughly 36 million users in the country. The popular social network reached more than 80 percent of Italian internet users, topped only by YouTube and WhatsApp. Despite their popularity, according to a survey of Italian internet users in April 2020, respondents identified major social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as responsible for spreading false or inaccurate information regarding the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Mobile internet and apps

As of the beginning of 2021, mobile phones were almost as popular devices for accessing the internet as laptop or desktop computers, while web traffic from tablets made up only two percent of the total. Making video calls and using services like Facetime to keep connected to friends and loved ones appeared to be the most popular activity among Italian internet users on their smartphones. Accordingly, chat and messenger apps were among the most used types of apps in the country, with a reach of 94.4 percent as of the third quarter of 2020.

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