Telenor Asia reveals key trends in the usage of mobile devices.

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What are the five key trends for the continued surge in time spent on mobile devices?

  • The rapid adoption of digital technology shows no signs of slowing down; three out of four respondents (Thais in particular) anticipate a rise in mobile usage
  • Gen Z and Millennials worry that they overuse technology and don’t have the necessary skills to keep up with the speed of technological change

Following a pandemic-induced stimulant to mobile habits in 2020, 2021 was again another record-breaking year in the mobile industry. It’s no secret that most people use their mobile devices excessively; this year is expected to smash records in a transformed economy dependent on digital sociability, hybrid work, and entertainment available right in the palm of a user’s hand.

According to Telenor Asia’s latest “Digital Lives Decoded” survey, people in Asia are unified by a clear sense that connectivity gives them more economic opportunity, everyday comfort, and more access to important services.

Over 8,000 mobile internet customers in eight South and Southeast Asian countries—Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam—were surveyed for the study, which was announced in connection with Telenor’s 25th anniversary in Asia.

Mobile devices ease people’s lives

93% of respondents strongly agree that using their mobile devices improves their quality of life. In general, women are leading this trend; 64% of them, as opposed to 52% of males, believe their quality of life has greatly improved. The two countries where women are most likely to connect to “much improved” lifestyles through mobile use are Thailand (76%) and Indonesia (74%).

Key trends in the report include:

Swiping up for an always-on lifestyle  – One in five of the consumers surveyed never go without their phone, and the majority of them keep a mobile device with them at all times. However, the majority of those asked believe they utilize technology in a balanced way (76%). The most reliant on their phones are those in the Philippines and Thailand, where 29% and 25%, respectively, claim they never go without them.

Keeping up as digital life charges ahead – However, there are clear generational disparities in how people feel about the rise in time spent online. The youngest respondents, those in Gen Z, are more inclined to believe that they use technology excessively. Gen Z respondents, like their millennial peers, were most concerned about having the appropriate skills to stay up with technology.

(Lack of) trust in the digital world – Despite a recognized rise in digital adoption, 93% of respondents in the region expressed concerns about the privacy and security of mobile devices. One in three Gen Z respondents in Malaysia who reported a decline in mobile usage in the previous year mentioned privacy and security concerns as the main justification.

Tapping into a more sustainable life – The report is optimistic about mobile technology’s potential to enhance environmental sustainability. Three-quarters of those polled say having access to digital technology will help them lead greener lives in the future. Interesting disparities also existed between markets, with Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore having the lowest rates at 63%, 57%, and 41% respectively.

Mobile technology is closing the digital divide  – More women than men claim that mobile connectivity has improved their options for working and earning an income, as well as given them better access to information and educational opportunities, which is another indication of the larger potential that women perceive in mobile usage. Interestingly, Singapore is the only country where this tendency is in reverse, with more men (54%) than women (49%) stating that mobile usage greatly enhances their life.

“As mobile connectivity becomes even more fundamental to our daily lives, lacking the right skills and awareness, including to navigate safety and privacy issues, or being off the grid can severely restrict access to education, healthcare, economic and employment opportunities. We need to better understand digital gaps, and how to bridge them, as well as the carbon footprint of our online habits, as we work together to create a future where mobile connectivity is empowering and sustainable for all,” said Jørgen Rostrup, Head of Telenor Asia.