Emerging nations are becoming more connected to technology and are embracing the Internet and smartphones. In the past two years, the percentage of people in emerging and developing nations who say they use the Internet and own a smartphone has risen substantially.

Pew Research Center conducted a survey to assess the amount of people in emerging and developing nations who use the Internet and smart devices. Developed nations still lead the world in Internet usage and smartphone ownership, but developing and emerging nations are starting to close that gap.

Developing Nations Log On

Back in 2013, an average of 45 percent of people in 21 emerging or developing companies said they used the Internet at least occasionally or owned a smartphone. In just two years, that figure jumped to 54 percent of people. Much of the increase can be attributed to large emerging economies like Malaysia, Brazil and China. 

Developed Nations Remain Ahead

While emerging nations are starting to accept and use technology, these nations are still far behind developed nations like the U.S., Canada, major Western European nations and developed Pacific nations. These developed countries report a median of 87 percent of at least occasional Internet usage or smartphone ownership.

Smartphone Ownership Rises

Emerging and developing nations are quickly accepting the trend of smartphone ownership. In 2013, developing nations reported a median of 21 percent smartphone ownership. In 2015, that number quickly rose to 37 percent. Furthermore, almost every country surveyed said the majority of citizens owned some sort of mobile device, even if it was not a smartphone.

When people in emerging nations do connect to the internet, they usually do so at least once a day, and many are on several times per day. People in emerging nations frequently use social media when connected.

Social Media Is Important to Developing Nations

The percentage of people logging onto social media sites in emerging nations is actually higher than it is in developed nations. Users in the Middle East (86 percent), Latin America (82 percent) and Africa (76 percent) are accessing social networks more than users in the United States (71 percent) and six European nations (65 percent).

Although there are more people logging on to the Internet in general in developed nations, a greater proportion of those who do use the Internet in developing nations use social media.

Poorer Countries Are Less Likely to Have Internet

Richer nations are more likely to have a high rate of Internet use than poorer countries. The lower a country's gross domestic product, the lower the average usage of the Internet there.

For example, many African nations with a GDP of less than $10,000 have an Internet usage rate of 20 percent or less. Conversely, developed nations with a GDP rate of $40,000 or higher have an Internet usage rate of 80 percent or higher.

Age Matters for the Internet

Younger people are much more likely to use the Internet than older individuals in both developed and developing nations. In France, 98 percent of people aged 18 to 34 reported using the Internet at least occasionally, compared to 66 percent of people aged 35 and older. In Turkey, considered a developing country, 93 percent of people aged 18 to 34 use the Internet, but only 53 percent of people 35 or older do so.

The Internet and smartphones are becoming more of a necessity than a luxury. The Pew study indicates people in developing nations are realizing that trend and trying to catch up with developed nations.