As of December 2021, India had a total of 646 million active internet users aged 2 years and above, 592 million of whom are aged 12 years and above. The number of net users aged 12 and above has grown 37% since 2019.
The study found that much of the growth in internet usage could be attributed to the large number of women who logged on for the first time over the past two years. Dolly Jha, managing director at Nielsen India which conducted the study, told TOI the data points towards a striking 61% rise in active female internet users since 2019.
“The pandemic has certainly acted as a catalyst to the rise in internet literacy among female users. Interestingly, the study indicates that 1 of every 3 females in rural India is an active internet user, hinting at the fast-growing digital landscape in rural India. However, a significant percentage among them are still off the internet, thereby leaving room for further growth,” she said.
Overall, the male-to-female ratio among active internet users is 60:40. Jha added that availability of budget smartphones, some of the cheapest mobile data prices in the world and government initiatives like Digital India all contributed to the surge in internet adoption across the country.
The study also found that an overwhelming majority of Indians still access the net via their mobile phones and almost 90% of all users access the internet daily. Even among those aged 50 and above, the study found 81% used the internet daily.
Browsing social media platforms seems to be the most popular online activity in India, while watching videos and listening to music comes a close second. Close to 440 million users watch videos on the internet of which 54% are from rural India, the study found. It added that urban India still dominates when it comes to online shopping, use of online banking and digital payments. The study was carried out from September 2021 to December 2021 and covered 110,000 household members across 27,900 households.