PHP is the programming language on which WordPress is built. All the processing that turns the code into your WordPress pages is processed on the server by your WordPress installation with PHP. The server then sends on the completed HTML page to you.
Like all software, PHP is developing to add features, improve performance and take advantage of new faster hardware. The current version is now 7.0.12. However, many web hosts are still using version 5.x variants.
So should you have your website updated?
The official recommendation for WordPress hosting is now PHP 7 or higher. After WordPress.com switched to be 100% on PHP 7, Mullenweg said the network’s performance doubled and CPU load fell in half. Just 4% of self-hosted sites are on PHP 7, but the new recommendation should help move more hosts towards getting their customers updated.
It is your hosting provider that needs to update, not you. Many web hosts have added support for version 7, and you may find it within your Cpanel settings (if you have such), but not activated, so speak with the support desk of your host and ask them how you can benefit from the better performance by updating. As with all updates, make sure you take a backup first.
We suggest you make sure that all your plugins have been brought up to date first. Check that they have all had recent updates and support the latest version of WordPress. Then make the PHP update last.