FILIPINOS are using their mobile phones to upskill and manage their expenses amid increased digital adoption and inflationary challenges, according to a report.

Filipinos spend more than 21 hours daily (86% of the day) on their phones to connect with others, but also acquire new skills for career development, the Digital Lives Decoded study of telco company Telenor Asia Pte. Ltd. found.

The survey covered 8,000 mobile internet users across South and Southeast Asia, with 1,010 participants from the Philippines.

“In 2023, we see a shift where mobile use has the greatest impact on people’s lives, with work becoming the primary driver for increasing usage, and a majority using their devices to pick up new skills,” Petter-Børre Furberg, executive vice-president and head of Telenor Asia, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“A stand-out finding this year from the Philippines was that amidst a challenging economy and high inflationary environment, mobiles are being widely used as a tool to manage rising costs of living,” he added, noting that 75% of Filipino respondents used their phones to find the best deals (75%) and compare prices (74%).

Filipinos also see their mobile phones as tools to help them create new income streams (71%), with most claiming to have used their device to learn a new skill in the past year (91%).

“Selling on e-commerce platforms (56%), leveraging [generative artificial intelligence] (52%), and social media management (47%) emerged as the most desirable skills to learn via mobile device,” it noted.

Freelance or consultancy services came on top among income streams created via mobile, Telenor added.

In terms of work, 77% said mobile use has grown their productivity over the last five years, with 90% seeing significant improvement in their work quality and performance and 45% believing it would help them get ahead at work due to connectivity.

Meanwhile, 82% said their workplace supports the use of generative artificial intelligence, with 52% expecting it to increase in the next six months.

However, 97% of Filipino respondents have also raised concerns on privacy and security, with 55% seeing these vulnerabilities “hindering the full utility of mobile devices in the course of their work,” the report said.

Fake news (76%), identity theft (76%), and data theft (74%) emerged as top concerns among Filipinos, with 89% expressing worry about the online safety of elderly family members and 95% about children’s safety.

“As mobile technology becomes increasingly central to our lives, so does the need for all stakeholders to continue to understand the people and parts of the ecosystem most at risk,” Mr. Furberg said.

“We must keep working with stakeholders to create a safer online environment which allows all generations to take advantage of the immense potential offered by mobile access,” he added. — Miguel Hanz L. Antivola