The COVID-19’s unprecedented effect on the Digital Landscape


To say the world has changed dramatically over the first four months of 2020 would be an understatement, with the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected almost every aspect of our lives. Unsurprisingly, this has had a dramatic and unprecedented impact on the global digital landscape. Billions of people have subsequently turned to connected devices and online platforms in a bid to cope with life and work under lockdown. Here are some key stats that show the current state of digital around the globe along with the COVID-19 effect.

Digital adoption continues to grow

As of April 2020, there are 4.57 billion internet users around the world which amounts to 59% of the population. Internet usage has seen a 7% increase from last April, while Social Media usage grew by 8% to reach 3.81 billion users nearing the 50% penetration rate.

Digital around the world in april 2020
Credit: Hootsuite
Global digital growth
Credit: Hootsuite

Users spending more on devices post-lockdown

A trend that has been boosted during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the time spent by internet users on digital platforms. Users spend considerably more time online now in comparison to their pre-lockdown behaviours.

Covid-19: people spending more time with devices
Credit: Hootsuite

This comes in line with stats that show streaming sites like Netflix having reached all-time high traffic and the resurgence in the time spent watching TV in some areas.

Increase in digital activities

It’s notable that a considerable amount of users spend more time on each activity in recent weeks compared to pre-lockdown usage and a certain amount of them may continue these habits even after the outbreak.

Covid-19: increase in online & digital activities
Credit: Hootsuite

In addition to the usual portfolio of social media platforms, the pandemic has given way to the enormous rise of video conferencing apps like Zoom and Houseparty, even prompting Facebook to introduce Messenger Rooms . These apps have quickly moved to the forefront of many people’s work lives, and many users have been using these platforms to stay in touch with friends and family. Zoom has gone from 10 million users in December to over 300 million users today. Houseparty has gained over 50 million users in the last month alone.

Video games’ popularity continues to rise

The popularity of video games is not so surprising. Even pre-lockdown, popularity was at an all-time high with 80% of the internet users favouring video games. With people being, confined to their homes during the lockdown, this trend is only set to keep rising.

Playing games: device perspective
Credit: Hootsuite

Mobile First; the rest follow

An insight that has been on the rise in digital in the recent past is the ‘Mobile First’ concept and rightly so. The stats back it up showing mobile devices continuing to account for a greater share of global web traffic compared to last year. It’s safe to assume that this trend will accelerate during the lockdown.

Share of web traffic by device
Credit: Hootsuite

While all these stats show the vast impact of COVID-19 on the digital landscape, we’ll leave you with a stat on a light-hearted note. The unprecedented increase in journalists’ use of the word “unprecedented” has led to unprecedented growth in the number of people searching for the word “unprecedented.” Quite unprecedented, indeed.

Unprecedented use of the word "UNPRECEDENTED"