Given the significant contribution of mobile connectivity on our daily lives, it is important to keep track of how it impacts the population, especially as since Covid-19, a wave of digitisation and adaption to technology has taken place. Realising the fast pace at which mobile connectivity has grown in Asia, Telenor released a report earlier this year called Digital Lives Decoded, after surveying 8,227 mobile internet users across various demographic segments in the South and Southeast Asia region – with 1,040 of them from Pakistan. The key findings depict an insight into the influence mobile connectivity holds in users’ lives.
1. Overall Response:
Chapter 1: The vast majority (93%) of the respondents believed that mobile connectivity improved their quality of life, with 58% stating that the improvement was significant.
The reasons cited included greater connectivity with friends and family, access to information and increased efficiency and productivity. In terms of how the connectivity is used, communication via calls and emails scored 84%, search engines for access to information held 83%, another 83% used it for their work and 82% used connectivity for e-learning. As to which activities reduced quality of life, content surfing before sleep, dating apps and video games were believed to have a negative influence.
Given that the survey included several demographics, a generation gap emerged. The highest ratio who believe in significant improvement in quality of life (58% overall) are Gen-X at 60%, followed by Millennials at 59%, Gen Z at 55% and Baby Boomers at 50%.
Gen Z were the most likely to believe they were overusing their phone while Baby Boomers were the least concerned with this. Commenting on the dependency on their mobile phones, 95% carried their phones for half the day, 41% for more than 21 hours and 21% at all times. The majority (56%) use their phones for more than five hours a day and more than a third said their phone usage had significantly increased since the start of the year; 74% believed that usage is expected to further increase in the next two years.
Chapter 2: In terms of the impact on different genders, women were more likely to believe that mobile connectivity brought significant improvement in their lives – 64% versus 52% men. The areas where women were more favourable than men included better access to information, enhanced options for income generation and greater avenues for education. Furthermore, there was a visible disparity between users in urban and rural areas. Users in rural areas were less likely (45%) to believe that their life had significantly improved compared to 65% of users in urban areas – this can be attributed to differences in lifestyles and careers. Mobile phones also tested positively in promoting inclusion, with 92% saying that connectivity had given them greater access to financial services and 88% stating it helped in education and healthcare.
Chapter 3: Mobile connectivity has helped make respondents more environmentally conscious; 61% said they are very environmentally conscious. Moreover, 97% felt that mobile connectivity has supported sustainable living by promoting reduced paper usage, waste recycling and conserving electricity. An age gap was observed with the younger population more likely to believe they are environmentally conscious compared to older users. Privacy and information security was a major concern for 93%, and 98% consider where and when they use their phone as well as which apps they allow access to their phones.
2. Pakistan: Users in Pakistan showed some key differences compared to the overall scores.
Pakistanis are less likely to believe that connectivity has improved their quality of life; 47% responded positively compared to the overall 58%. Only 63% felt that family relationships were improved considerably (overall score:75%). This can be attributed to a more prevalent joint-family living culture in Pakistan compared to other regions. Furthermore, 26% feel that they are overusing technology (overall score: 19%). A caveat to note is the fact that surveying a population north of 220 million with merely 1,040 users raises concerns over the reliability of the survey due to the small sample size.
The report raises key points regarding the future of the industry and what telecommunication companies should do as the digital transformation within the region continues. Telenor noted a 60% increase in digital usage was reported since the pandemic, showing how fast the acceleration has been. The report focused on the need to bridge connectivity gaps, especially between urban and rural users, men and women, along with the young and elderly population. The report emphasised that skills to keep pace with technology must be provided through public-private partnerships along with revised curriculae for the younger population to give them the skills needed for the future. The report has shed important light on the influence of mobile connectivity and will hopefully help both the industry and users understand the impact of mobile connectivity.