Telenor Asia Digital Lives Decoded 2023

In its second year, Digital Lives Decoded delves into five key drivers that show how mobile technology impacts the lives of people across the region in significant ways:

Digital Lives Decoded 2023 surveyed over 8,000 mobile users across eight markets in Asia to understand how mobile use is helping people across Asia lead better digital lives.


In its second year, Digital Lives Decoded continues to chart how mobile usage and digital life evolves, delving further into the areas of our online existence that stood out the most in our first study asking people what matters most to enjoying a better digital life in Asia.

We explored whether people are using their mobile to build healthy social connections online, and the factors that might inhibit this. We looked into how people are using their mobile to learn and grow professionally, in addition to opening up new opportunities and income streams. We explored whether
people have the knowledge and tools to limit the risks that come with spending time online. Finally, we asked people whether they believe their mobile use can reduce our impact on the planet.

Our first study in 2022 came at a time when the world was emerging from a global pandemic and the pace of digital adoption accelerated. This year’s findings build on those trends, signalling that mobile phone usage continues to gain momentum.

Greatest impact shifts from social to work

In 2023, we see a shift in where mobile usage has the greatest impact on people’s lives. The 2022 study pointed largely to social factors, while this year, work emerges strongly with people seeking ways to upskill, enhance their careers, and access new revenue streams that only mobile connectivity
allows. They are becoming more productive while ensuring that they can find a good work-life balance. Critically, they are not sacrificing the important interpersonal relationships that underpin all other aspects of their life.

Yet, as mobile devices become increasingly central to our lives, so does the need for all stakeholders to continue understanding the people and parts of the ecosystem most at risk. Respondents across the region highlighted a concern shared by many – the online safety of the most vulnerable people in our families such as the elderly and younger generations. We must continue working with all stakeholders to ensure that people are educated and informed about online security risks, and create a safe online environment to allow all generations to take advantage of the potential of mobile.

Drivers for better digital lives

Digital Lives Decoded 2023 offers a view of the five drivers for better digital lives in Asia – and the areas where improvements are still needed. To inspire continued progress across these five dimensions, Telenor’s experts have weighed in with recommendations. We hope you will find these insights helpful. Enjoy the read!

Petter-Børre Furberg
Head of Telenor Asia


Respondents continue to have their mobiles with them for large parts of the day

A resounding 73% of respondents spend at least half their day using their mobile devices, with the highest usage observed in Malaysia (89%), Thailand (86%) and the Philippines (86%).

Five drivers shaping lives in the region

Survey respondents in the region reinforce the value of mobile connectivity in enhancing personal relationships. 61% note improvements in relationships with family members, and 72% report positive changes in their friendships.

Digital dependency is highest in the Philippines, with 24% never without their mobile, followed by Thailand (20%) and Malaysia (19%). However, a significant 77% of respondents believe they have effectively maintained a balance in their daily mobile use.

This year, work (76%) has become the primary factor driving increased mobile usage, marking a shift from 2022 when social interaction held the top spot. 83% believe that mobile device usage for work has enhanced their productivity over the last five years. In the Philippines, 39% feel mobile use has
significantly boosted their productivity.

Adoption of new technologies are also accelerating in the workplace, with 77% of respondents indicating that their companies support the use of generative AI for work.

As mobile usage and device connectivity expand, so do privacy and security concerns. Our survey reveals people’s perspectives on the relationship between their daily technology use and the privacy and security of themselves and their families. Our survey found that 90% of respondents had privacy and security concerns on their mobile devices. Of these, 44% were very concerned, with the highest levels in the Philippines (69%) and the lowest in Thailand (17%).

Top concerns across the region are data theft (70%) – highest in Indonesia (84%) and Vietnam (80%), identity theft (64%) and fake news (57%).

Mobile usage has transformed lives by expanding access to knowledge. People of all ages are acquiring new skills, managing finances, and creating additional income sources through their mobile devices. In Indonesia, 93% of surveyed individuals have used their mobile devices to learn new skills in the past year. However, despite the multitude of new skills mobile devices offer people in the region, many are concerned about keeping pace with technological changes.

90% of respondents are concerned or very concerned about carbon emissions and the associated impact on climate change, but almost three-quarters feel that their mobile devices allow them to live more sustainably.

Many believe that the sustainability practices of their telecom provider are important in their choice of whether to use them or not, and eight in ten say they are willing to pay more to switch to a mobile plan that produces a substantially lower carbon footprint.

People overwhelmingly view mobile connectivity as a positive force in their lives, empowering them and keeping them informed. It enables access to new income sources, education, and sustainable living. However, some acknowledge overuse amidst this positivity, with one in five admitting to it. Nearly all mobile users share Privacy and security concerns. Safeguarding our digital space is a collective responsibility involving individuals, governments, and telecom operators.