Telenor study: Asians switching off by switching on

Filipinos, like the rest of Asians, now switch downtime pursuits into ‘up-time’ opportunities, turning to their mobile phones to relax.

This was according to the third and final installment of Telenor Asia’s study into people’s Digital Lives released Tuesday, January 31.

At present, people in the region socialize more online than they do in-person.

Nearly half of 8,227 mobile internet users surveyed in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, who are over 18 years old, meet new people regularly online.

Some three-quarters of them expect to spend even more time socialising via social media apps in the coming years.

People are also spending a good chunk of their leisure time tapping into mobile technology for online investing, social gaming as well as on-the-go learning apps and podcasts.

Telenor’s concluding report examines the changing spectrum of consumers’ leisure-time pursuits – supercharged by a more digitally-savvy, post-pandemic user base.

“The standout finding from these results is how mobile access has turned gaming into a mass phenomenon, embedding virtual interactions and virtual worlds into daily life,” Jørgen C. Arentz Rostrup, Head of Telenor Asia, pointed out.


“We see now that gaming is bringing positive impact to reallife communities, reinforcing relationships and making other areas of daily life like work, healthcare or learning more efficient,” he elaborated.

“This growth comes with even higher expectations of mobile operators as people seek more dependable, faster mobile networks,” the executive stressed.

In this scenario, mobile operators to expand beyond the traditional enabler of the technology but also a partner in the virtual world.

Significantly, the study found that some of the habits formed during the two-plus years of the pandemic became hardwired in the way Asians live their lives today, with two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents saying they now socialise more online than in real life.

Younger generations tend to spend more time socialising online, but Baby Boomers say that mobile technology is helping them feel more connected to their loved ones.

More than half of the respondents (55 percent) say they feel better connected to people they know because of social media.

The study also found that four out of five Asian respondents play some mobile game, with close to a third (31 percent) playing every single day, led by those in Thailand (44 percent) and Vietnam (41percent).

Telenor’s research suggests that stereotypes on gamers need updating as this pastime now reaches across genders and generations.

This development points to the positive role of mobile in making gaming inclusive and accessible than ever before.

Futhermore, respondents across the region are increasingly looking to their mobile devices for selfimprovement, personal upskilling and development.

Some 40 percent of respondents are using mobile devices to tap into learning and educational apps or websites, with women and younger generations most likely to say they feel the benefits.

In particular, more than half of Gen-Zs (51percent) surveyed said that learning on their mobile has significantly improved their quality of life, in contrast to only one quarter (25 percent) of older generations.

The growing desire for consumers in the region to learn on-the-go and enhance their personal development during downtime is reflected by 45 percent of respondents who spend at least an hour a day listening to podcasts.

But despite the growing interest in virtual reality, the Telenor study indicates that people are currently on the fence about shifting their downtime activities to the metaverse.

The metaverse is defined as a virtual world where people, digital platforms and businesses and coexist and interact.

Just over one-third (39 percent) of respondents are keen to socialise and make new friends in the Metaverse.

Surprisingly, respondents in the Philippines are the most enthusiastic, with more than half (55 percent) keen to do so.

In contrast, Singaporeans are the most resistant or sceptical about this, with only 26 percent keen to explore this possibility.

Streaming on-demand content is a top activity people are spending time on daily.

The bulk, 63 percent, of respondents spend at least an hour a day doing so on their mobile phones, coming in second to listening to music (65 percent) and more than gaming (59 percent).

Millennials and Gen X are more likely to stream on-demand content than Gen Z, who prefer to spend their downtime on social media or gaming.

Although video streaming has disrupted the media and entertainment industry, the study revealed that streaming on-demand content does not have the same pull or staying power as other mobile activities.

As compared to socialising through social media apps (74 percent) or online social gaming (45 percent), only 37 percent of respondents said they expect to spend on more time on this in the next one to two years.

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