Smartphone use among Indians shoots up 25% amid COVID-19: study

In today’s digital age—and year of social distancing—can anyone really part with their smartphones? A recent Vivo and Cyber Media Research (CMR) found that on the average, an Indian user spends one-third of their waking hours on their phone—accounting for about 1800 hours a year.

COVID-19 factor in rise of smartphone use

The Vivo and CMR study, titled “Smartphones and their impact on human relationships 2020,” evaluates the different areas of increasing smartphone use—from the extent of the use of the mobile devices to the impact of the ongoing lockdown—as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise—on usage patterns as well as health, and social relationships of users.

The survey, conducted online and in person in top 8 cities in India with a total of 2,000 respondents, saw a major jump in the daily hour usage of smartphones per user from 4.5 hours in 2019 to nearly 7 hours in 2020, which is nearly a 39 percent increase.

Sixty-six percent of Indians believe their smartphones improve the quality of life, although 70 percent the respondents admit that a continued increase in smartphone use can likely affect their mental and physical health.

Meanwhile, 74 percent of the respondents said periodically switching off their mobile devices can help them spend more time with their friends and relatives—but only 18 percent of the surveyed users admit to actually switching off phones on their own.

Indians spend more time on social media, online games

Nipun Marya, Director Brand Strategy at Vivo India, said they saw a 75 percent increase in smartphone use for office work, while calling increased by 63 percent. Indian users also spend considerable time on over-the-top (OTT) media services (59 percent), as well as watching videos (56 percent) and on social media (55 percent).

And in these times when people can’t go out to socialize with their friends and be with their loved ones—especially for the holidays—smartphone users in India are turning to technology to virtually talk to their family and friends and even play their card games like teen patti real money games online (45 percent) instead. Gambling websites such as 10Cric offers several versions of localised table games for the Indian market.

“The year 2020 was unusual—a year that nobody had imagined. Amidst the socially distant lives that the pandemic pushed us to lead, the smartphone emerged as the central nervous system for everything—be it working or learning from home or staying connected with friends and family,” Marya said, according to The Economic Times. “However, while smartphones have given much-needed flexibility to people, its excessive use has led to addiction among users, and that, in turn, is impacting human relationships and behavior.”

“While the explosive surge in smartphones in India has enabled Indians with not just communicating with loved ones, but with myriad other uses cases, including  in consuming entertainment and in expressing themselves, our survey results demonstrate that the  dependency over smartphones has increased. While smartphone will continue to be the primary go-to device, smartphone users have realized that periodically switching-off would help benefit their personal health,” Prabhu Ram, Head of Industry Intelligence Group, CMR, said in a statement.