About one in five people around the globe use a social networking site at least once a month, and that number is expected to grow significantly over the next several years.
About 1.61 billion people will use a social networking site, such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram or Twitter, this month, according to eMarketer, a market research company. That's a 14.2 percent increase from 2012, and double-digit growth is expected to continue through next year.
By 2017, 2.33 billion people will use social networks, the company said.
The World Bank has reported that there were 7.046 billion people last year. That means this year 22.8 percent of the world's population is using social networks at least every month.
By 2017, when some estimates show the world population reaching 7.44 billion, 31.3 percent of the world will be using social networks, according to eMarketer.
The company also noted that while the number of social network users is growing, that growth rate is slowing.
For instance, 2012 showed a year-over-year growth rate of 17.6 percent, but this year's growth slipped to 14.2 percent. By 2017, the growth rate is expected to slide to show 7.6 percent.
The world's largest social networking site, Facebook, should reach 1.026 billion monthly users by the end of this year, eMarketer estimates.
The U.S. has the most monthly Facebook users with 146.8 million.
Currently, the Netherlands has the highest penetration of social media users with 63.5 percent. Norway comes in second with 63.3 percent. The U.S. was sixth at 51.7 percent.
However, a majority of residents in Sweden, South Korea, Denmark, the U.S., Finland, Canada, and the U.K. also use social networking sites monthly.
The highest growth areas are in less-developed markets. India, for instance, has shown the most growth this year, increasing user numbers by 37.4 percent. Indonesia's numbers will climb 28.7 percent and Mexico will increase its social network user base by 21.1 percent, eMarketer reported.
This story, "Social media use climbs; one-fifth of the world joins in" was originally published by Computerworld.