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Switching off by switching on: Consumers in Asia are turning to their mobiles to boost leisure pursuits - Telenor Asia study

31/01/2023

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Socialising online is the top use of the mobile phone, with mobile investing and social gaming set to grow.

Online gaming goes mainstream due to mobile access. A staggering 80% of respondents play mobile games and one in three play every single day.

More than half of Gen-Zs surveyed said that using their mobile phones for learning has significantly improved their quality of life.

Singapore, January 31, 2023 - People across Asia are increasingly switching downtime pursuits into up-time' opportunities, according to the latest installment of a study into people's digital lives by Telenor Asia.

In Asia, people are socialising more online than they do in-person. Nearly half of the respondents said they meet new people regularly online and 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.

This study forms the third and final part of the Telenor Asia Digital Lives Decoded series, launched in 2022 in conjunction with Telenor Asia's 25th Anniversary. The series sought to understand the role of mobile connectivity in how we live, work, and play, surveying over 8,000 mobile internet users across eight countries (Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) in South and Southeast Asia. This 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 technology has transformed gaming. Mobile access has turned gaming into a mass phenomenon, embedding virtual interactions and virtual worlds into daily life. We see now that gaming is bringing positive impact to real-life communities, reinforcing relationships and making other areas of daily life like work, healthcare or learning more efficient, said J rgen C. Arentz Rostrup, Head of Telenor Asia.

This growth comes with even higher expectations of mobile operators as people seek more dependable, faster mobile networks. The trends from this Digital Lives Decoded study highlight the opportunity for operators to expand beyond the traditional towards new capabilities and services, becoming not only an enabler of the technology but also a partner in the virtual world, he added.

1. Social media still second nature

Some of the habits formed during the two-plus years of the pandemic are becoming hard-wired in the way we live our lives today, with two-thirds (66%) of people 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 our respondents (55%) say they feel better connected to people they know because of social media, with respondents in Thailand (63%) and Bangladesh (61%) responding most positively, while nearly half (47%) regularly meet new people online.

As seen in previous reports, Singaporeans are the least likely to recognise the benefits of mobile technology on their day-to-day lives. They are also the least dependent on their mobiles for downtime activities (32% versus 47% overall) and the least likely to socialise more virtually than in-person (49%).

2. The new face of gaming is mobile

Four out of five people play some mobile game, with close to a third (31%) playing every single day, led by those in Thailand (44%) and Vietnam (41%). Our 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 more inclusive and accessible than ever before.

In-game spend continues to grow in appeal with half of those surveyed spending some disposable income on gaming and in-game features while nearly a third of people spend between US$10-100 per year. Those in Singapore represent the largest spenders with one in five people spending between US$100-300 per year on in-game items.

Growing popularity of the social side of gaming is also evident in the findings with close to two-thirds (64%) of respondents either watching eSports or video game streams, led by those in Vietnam (76%) and Bangladesh (71%). Nearly half of the respondents expect an increase in the time they spend on social gaming going forward, led by respondents in Thailand (62% versus 45% overall).

3. Downtime becomes uptime

Respondents across the region are increasingly looking to their mobile devices for self-improvement, personal upskilling and development. 40% 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 (51%) surveyed said that learning on their mobile has significantly improved their quality of life, in contrast to only one quarter (25%) 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% of respondents who spend at least an hour a day listening to podcasts, with respondents in Thailand (66%) and Pakistan (65%) most likely to do so. Singaporeans are least likely to experience benefits from using such apps, with only 20% feeling that they significantly improve quality of life, compared to a 40% average.

4. The Metaverse is yet to truly convince

Looking to t
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