4 ways people think social media affects their lives
April 11th, 2024, Hoang Nguyen

4 ways people think social media affects their lives

Social media has become an undeniable force in our lives, transforming communication, entertainment, information sharing, and even commerce globally. To understand how consumers across 48 markets interact with and view social media, this analysis leverages data from YouGov Global Profiles, an advanced audience segmentation tool.

Let’s explore social media penetration in key territories and dig into the ways people think social media is impacting their lives.

The global social media landscape

Social media use is widespread in 2024. An overwhelming majority of respondents across the 48 markets survey report being members of at least one social media platform (i.e. social media users).

Looking at individual markets, several regions stand out for their exceptionally high rate of social media membership. In Southeast Asia, for instance, nearly all respondents in Indonesia (98%), Thailand (96%), Hong Kong (96%) and Taiwan (96%) report using social media. Similarly high numbers were found in South Africa (96%), the UAE (96%) and Egypt (94%).

It’s important for us to note that in the aforementioned markets, the data is only representative of online populations or, in some cases, those residing in urban areas (see the methodology statement for panel schemes).

Among nationally representative samples, Mexico (96%), the Philippines (96%), Romania (95%), Norway (94%), and Singapore (94%) boast the highest share of social media users.

And in Western economies, social media use is also prevalent. YouGov Global Profiles shows that a majority of respondents in countries like Australia (91%), Canada (88%), the US (86%) and Great Britain (85%) use social media.

There are a few markets that show lower but still substantial social media usage. For example, Japan (64%) and Germany (77%) both have lower rates of social media membership compared to other markets.

Social media mindset

Beyond membership statistics, we can also use psychographic data provided by social media users to understand how they feel about social media and their online lives. Here are just some key findings:

1. Social media’s positive impact: By two to one, global social media users are more likely to agree than disagree that social media has changed their life for the better (40% vs. 20%). This sentiment tends to be more prevalent in developing regions where social media may have facilitated communication and access to information.

  • Highest in: South Africa (57% of social media users agree), Vietnam (53%), Thailand (52%) and India (49%)
  • Lowest in: Slovakia (13% agree), Czech Republic (16%), Italy (17%) and Portugal (17%)

2. Erosion of social interactions:
When it comes to interpersonal interactions, social media users are nearly four times as likely to agree than disagree that social media changes the way people interact with each other for the worse (53% vs. 14%). So, while these platforms may bolster access to communication, many respondents note a decline in quality of face-to-face interactions or negative effects to how we talk to each other online.

  • Highest in: Great Britain (78% agree), the US (76%), South Africa (74%), and Germany (72%)
  • Lowest in: Japan (24%), China (40%), Hong Kong (43%) and Vietnam (46%)

3. Curating the online “self”: Our data reveals a strong focus on self-presentation on social media. Nearly half (47%) of global social media users globally say they really care about how they present themselves on social media, suggesting they invest time and effort in crafting their online image and highlighting the importance of social validation in the digital age.

  • Highest in: South Africa (76%), Germany (67%), France (64%), and Indonesia (63%)
  • Lowest in: Netherlands (20%), Bulgaria (21%), Denmark (27%), and Greece (28%)

4. Scrolling more often: People’s social media habits are only continuing to evolve. Nearly half (48%) of social media users agree they have been spending more time on social media compared to a year ago.

  • Highest in: South Africa (68%), Thailand (68%), Lebanon (59%) and Vietnam (58%)
  • Lowest in: Denmark (24%), Sweden (24%), Czech Republic (27%), and Norway (28%)

Learn more about the complex relationship between users and social media platforms, including:

  • Platform-specific trends
  • Regional and market-specific usage patterns
  • The popularity of TikTok
  • Segments of users who use social media to communicate vs. for entertainment
  • How people engage with social media advertising


YouGov Global Profiles is an audience dataset with 1000+ questions across 48 markets. The data is based on continuously collected data from adults aged 16+ years in China and 18+ years in other markets. The sample sizes for YouGov Global Profiles will fluctuate over time, however the minimum sample size is always c.1000. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from India and UAE, which use urban representative samples, and China, Egypt, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, which use online representative samples. Learn more about Global Profiles.