Edition 2020

Photo description: Girl taking a picture of her friend with her mobile phone.

Who use social media the most?

The Dutch are more digitally active than ever. In 2019, 88 percent of the Dutch population aged 12 years and over was online every day. The most common internet activities are e-mailing and the use of social media. The Dutch are also calling more frequently via services such as Skype or WhatsApp. Young people in particular use social media, but elderly people have been catching up in recent years.

65 to 74 yrs76.0%25 to 44 yrs96.0%45 to 64 yrs91.9%75 yrs and over39.8%96.8%12 to 24 yrsWho use social media the most?
Social media use (%)
Kenmerken personen 12 to 24 yrs 25 to 34 yrs 35 to 44 yrs 45 to 54 yrs 55 to 64 yrs 65 to 74 yrs 75 yrs and over
2014 96.7 94.0 88.3 79.3 64.3 39.8 13.0
2015 94.8 94.6 90.3 84.0 70.0 48.8 18.1
2016 95.4 93.7 93.1 88.8 78.9 54.7 22.0
2017 98.1 97.5 95.8 91.0 83.6 63.9 34.7
2018 95.4 97.1 94.3 93.1 83.9 67.6 40.3
2019 96.8 96.3 95.8 94.8 88.9 76.0 39.8

Every year more and more Dutch people aged 12 years or older use one or more forms of social media. While 74 percent used social media in 2014, that figure had risen to 87 percent five years later. Virtually everyone in the age category 12 to 44 years used social media in 2019 (over 95 percent).

Especially 65 to 75‑year-olds have been using social media more often in recent years. In 2019, 76 percent of people in this age category were active on social media, compared to 40 percent in 2014. An increase in social media use is also seen among Dutch seniors over the age of 75: in 2014, social media was used by 13 percent, a figure that had reached 40 percent five years later.

Mainly exchanging text messages

Exchange text messages, via WhatsApp for instance, is the most popular form of social media; 84 percent of the Dutch population aged 12 years and over did this in 2019.

The use of direct messaging has increased in recent years. In 2014, 63 percent of people aged 12 years and over sent text messages.

The strongest growth can be seen among 65 to 75‑year-olds. Seventy percent currently send text messages, compared to 25 percent in 2014. Exchanging text messages among over-75s increased from 7 percent in 2014 to 34 percent five years later. Men and women use direct messaging just as often.

Exchanging text messages, e.g. via WhatsApp (%)
Soc med 2019 2014
Total 84.2 62.8
12 to 24 yrs 95.0 93.0
25 to 34 yrs 95.0 87.4
35 to 44 yrs 94.1 75.8
45 to 54 yrs 92.0 64.9
55 to 64 yrs 84.0 46.5
65 to 74 yrs 70.0 25.2
75 yrs and over 34.4 6.5

Elderly people more frequently active on social networks

In 2019, 63 percent of the Dutch population aged 12 years and over were active on one or more social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. In 2014, that figure was 55 percent. Ever more elderly are also active on social media networks. In 2019, 38 percent of 65 to 74‑year-olds and 17 percent of over-75s were active on a social network; five years previously this was 23 and 6 percent, respectively.

Increase in internet calls

Of the Dutch population aged 12 years or older, 58 percent said they had made phone calls via the internet using services such as Skype or WhatsApp in the three months prior to the study. This is more than in 2014, when 31 percent were making internet phone calls.

Of the 12 to 24‑year-olds, nearly 80 percent made phone calls via the internet. At 18 percent (6 percent in 2014), relatively few people over the age 75 were using the internet to make phone calls. Of the 65 to 74‑year-olds, as much as 41 percent (19 percent in 2014) indicated they made phone calls via the internet.

The questions


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Explanation of symbols

Explanation of symbols
Symbol Explanation
Empty cell figure not applicable
. figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential
* provisional figure
** revised provisional figure
(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 average for the years 2016 up to and including 2017
2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2004/’05–2016/’17 crop year etc. 2004/’05 up to and including 2016/’17

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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Concept & image editing

Irene van Kuik


Anne Blaak

Janneke Hendriks

Richard Jollie

Hendrik Zuidhoek


Ronald van der Bie

Kees Groenenboom

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

Michel van Kooten

Sidney Vergouw

Paul de Winden

Elma Wobma

Karolien van Wijk

Gert Jan Wijma


Gabriëlle de Vet

Frans Dinnissen

Final editing

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

We thank all other colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in Numbers.