Social Climate

30M adults use internet

As estimated by Social Weather Stations, there were already 30 million Filipino adult internet users, i.e. age 18+, at the end of 2018 (“Fourth Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey: Record-high 47% of adult Filipinos use the Internet,” www.sws.org.ph, 3/13/19).

The national proportion of adult users was only 8 percent in June 2006, when first surveyed by SWS. In five years, it doubled to 16 percent (the 2011 survey average), and then doubled again to 32 percent by the end of 2015.  SWS surveyed internet usage 36 times in the 13 years of 2006-18. I suppose that half of all Filipino adults use the internet by now.


The number of 30 million is 47.0 percent times a national population of 64.09 million adults, based on official statistics. It excludes people of age 17 and below, who are by definition children. The worldwide standard for opinion poll coverage is the adult population, meaning persons of voting age. The number of children using the internet is also useful to estimate, but it requires another survey.

Internet usage by geographical area. In the National Capital Region, the proportion of adult internet users quadrupled in the SWS surveys, from 14 percent in 2006 to 59 percent in 2018. In the Balance of Luzon, over the same period, it grew 10 times, from 5 percent to 56 percent.


In the Visayas it grew from 12 percent to 35 percent, and in Mindanao it went from 7 percent to 32 percent. This shows that a cleavage exists in internet usage between the north and the south, and it has been maintained over time.  Could this indicate a geographic imbalance in investments in internet facilities?

Urban versus rural internet usage. In urban areas, internet usage among adults grew five times, from 12 percent to 62 percent. In rural areas, on the other hand, it grew more than eight times, from 4 percent to 37 percent. Thus the urban advantage has fallen, from 3 to 1 in 2006 to less than 2 to 1 in 2018.

Internet usage by adult men and women. In June 2006, 9 percent of men and 7 percent of women were internet users. Interestingly, the gender balance steadily shifted, and by December 2018 the proportions had become 44 percent for men and 49 percent for women.

In 12 SWS surveys from December 2015 to December 2018, the internet usage of women was always higher than that of men.

Internet usage by age group. Younger people have always been readier than older people to use the internet. Between 2006 and 2018, the usage of age group 18-24 tripled from 29 percent to 88 percent. The usage of the 25-34 age group also soared, from 8 percent to 69 percent.

The usage of the 35-44 group went from 6 percent to 56 percent, that of the 45-54 group went from 4 percent to 32 percent, and that of the 55+ group went from 2 percent to 17 percent. It appears that older folk have steadily grown more disadvantaged over time.

Internet usage by educational level. Having higher educational attainment is a tremendous advantage. In 2006, internet usage was 31 percent among college graduates, 11 percent among high school graduates, 2 percent among elementary graduates, and zero among those who did not complete elementary.


By 2018, the rates of usage by the above groups had become 77, 60, 31 and 15, respectively. A chasm separates high school graduates and those of less schooling.

Users of social media. Since these are subsets of internet users, they are fewer in number. SWS also has data about them, for public release in due time. For now, I will only mention that 99 percent of Filipino internet users also have Facebook.

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TAGS: internet, opinion, Philippines, Social Weather Stations, survey
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