[Press Release] Telenor Asia study identifies five drivers for a better digital life

[Press Release] Telenor Asia study identifies five drivers for a better digital life

  • Adoption of new technologies accelerating in the workplace: One in five respondents (22%) expect the use of generative AI to significantly increase in the next six months, while majority (86%) call for more training on this from their employers.  
  • Privacy and security concerns remain high: nine in ten people are concerned about privacy and security when using their mobile, with nearly one in three saying they experience a phishing attempt weekly.
  • Mobile use continues to gain momentum: Three in four people spend at least half their day using their mobile device, and 70% expect this time to increase in the coming years, with work as a primary driver behind this (76%).

Singapore, 31 October 2023 – Across the region, people are using their mobile devices to improve relationships, get ahead in their work, learn skills which open new income opportunities and live more sustainably. They are also taking steps to safeguard themselves and vulnerable family members from online risks and harms.

These five drivers emerged from Telenor Asia’s Digital Lives Decoded study, which is now in its second year. The study surveyed over 8,000 mobile internet users across Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, and set out to understand how mobile use is helping people across Asia lead better digital lives, especially when it comes to areas such as relationships, work and income opportunities, skills development, and online safety.

A stand-out finding this year was that amidst a challenging economy and high inflationary environment, mobiles are being widely used as a tool to manage rising costs of living. People are turning to their mobile devices to compare prices (70%) or find the best deal (65%), accessing the numerous financial management and budgeting tools, calculators, or apps that can help manage their finances during difficult times.

Our first study came at a time when the world was emerging from the global pandemic and the pace of digital adoption accelerated. This year’s findings build on those trends as mobile usage continues to gain momentum. In 2023, we see a shift where mobile use has the greatest impact on people’s lives, with work becoming the primary driver for increasing usage, and a majority using their devices to pick up new skills.

As mobile technology becomes increasingly central to our lives, so does the need for all stakeholders to continue to understand the people and parts of the ecosystem most at risk. We must keep working with stakeholders to create a safer online environment which allows all generations to take advantage of the immense potential offered by mobile access,” said Petter-Børre Furberg, EVP and Head of Telenor Asia.

  1. Building Healthy Social Connections Online

As we move further away from the pandemic, noticeable trends are becoming entrenched in how people use their devices. Most people (61%) continue to feel that the mobile has improved or significantly improved their relationship with family members, while 72% report positive improvements in their relationship with friends.

Facebook remains the most popular app to connect with others (44%) and the platform most people turn to for news (51%). There are early signs of change here though, with nearly one in ten people getting their news from TikTok. When it comes to 5G, the most popular reasons stated by the respondents in Southeast Asia were video/ music streaming (78%) and work/ studies (72%).

Striking the right balance when it comes to time online remains top of mind, with one in five people saying they overuse the technology in their hands. Yet, at the same time, less than 10% say their mobile use causes them to feel negative feelings such as anxiety.

2. Unlocking New Opportunities at Work

83% believe mobile use has upped their productivity at work over the last five years, and 87% feel it has improved or significantly improved work quality and performance. Nearly half of respondents from across the region believed that the mobile would help them get ahead at work (42%) or switch careers (45%), underpinning the enormous potential of mobile connectivity.  

Younger generations are unlocking the potential of their mobile to a greater extent compared to other age groups, with 39% of aged 18-30 indicating that they have been able to improve performance and quality of work with the mobile. This is in contrast to 2022, which found that senior level employees and those in the C-Suite got more out of their mobile use at work.

Respondents also anticipate the adoption of new technologies to accelerate in the workplace, with 77% indicating their organisation is supportive of using generative AI for work. At least one in five (22%) expect the use of generative AI to significantly increase in the next 6 months, while 86% would like to see their employers provide more training on this front.

3. A Safer Online Experience

In an age of growing mobile use, majority (90%) share concerns on privacy and security. 57% of respondents stated that privacy and security are vital in how they approach the services and apps they access on their mobile devices.

These concerns were most prevalent for the elderly and children. Over three-quarters (77%) highlight concerns over the online safety of elderly family members. Concerns over children were even higher, at 81%. This trend was most apparent in Malaysia (90%), the Philippines (89%), and Singapore (84%) – countries where online scams have increased in recent times. People name their top concerns as being around data theft (70%), identity theft (64%) and fake news (57%). Showing the prevalence of these issues, nearly a third of people (29%) say they encounter a phishing instance at least once a week.

89% feel that their skills gaps could put them at risk of scams and security breaches, and almost half feel somewhat concerned over their ability to keep pace with future changes in technology. However, respondents across the region said open discussions (71%) and guidelines (67%) are first steps to addressing online harm and safety.

4. Tapping into Learning and Personal Growth

Maintaining a recurrent theme from the 2022 Digital Lives Decoded Study, mobile use facilitates upskilling opportunities and creates new income streams. Over half (56%) of those surveyed this year said their mobile devices continue to open the door to learning new skills. 87% of respondents said they had used their mobile to learn a new skill in the last 12 months, with Indonesia leading this trend.

Communication skills such as learning a new language (57%), social media management (50%) and selling on e-commerce platforms (49%) emerged as the most desirable skills to learn via mobile device.  67% said they would like to use the skills they have gained to earn additional income – with this highest in Indonesia (74%) and lowest in Singapore (50%). Top new income streams created by mobile use are in online investing (43%), selling on online marketplaces (41%) and providing freelance services (37%).

5. Reducing Our Impact on the Planet

72% of the people surveyed felt that their mobile use helps them live more sustainably by reducing their paper usage, affording them access to education and information, and being more informed about daily life choices, such as information about transportation options. While a significant majority (90%) expressed concern over the environmental impact of their mobile use, one in five people are not at all aware of the carbon footprint they generate.

Looking on the brighter side, 42% of young people (18-30 years old) are very aware of their carbon footprint, and 41% state that the sustainability practices of their telco provider are very important to them. They are also the most likely (75%) to say that their mobile allows them to live more sustainably.

About the Report

The second year of the “Digital Lives Decoded” study delves into the five key drivers that show how mobile devices enable people to live better digital lives. These drivers are building healthy social connections online, unlocking new opportunities at work, facilitating skills growth and education, mitigating the impact on the planet, and cultivating safer online experiences.

This report summarises findings from a survey undertaken in August 2023 of 8,087 mobile internet users spread across eight markets in South and Southeast Asia, including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.