Users are willing to trade their personal data and online privacy for free services.
We surveyed 12,726 internet users from 13 countries across four continents to better understand the relationship between technology and people’s overall well-being. This study is meant to shed light on how modern technology influences our health, how people use apps to manage and improve their physical and mental health, and how we unknowingly use our privacy as a currency.
Curling up in your book nook with the latest page-turner on your lap is a thing of the past — unless it’s on your phone, tablet, or e-book reader. Globally, 96% of people turn to their devices when they want to relax, ranging from 90% in Sweden to 99% in the UK.
In general, TV remains the #1 device for relaxation and easy entertainment (70%). Smartphones are not far behind (69%), but they have already taken over and become the most used device for winding down in Italy (83%), Malaysia (79%), and Spain (74%).
Italians turned out to be the most likely to use technology for relaxing — 69% of them said they do so a few times a day. On the opposite end, we have Switzerland, where less than 50% of respondents reported using a device to unwind more than once throughout the day.
When it comes to activities, watching TV is the most common way to relax in most countries (66%), closely followed by listening to music (63%). Exceptions to this were Spain and Switzerland, where listening to music was slightly more popular; Australia, where streaming was in second place behind TV; and Malaysia, where TV came in fourth behind music, streaming, and scrolling through social media.
People love using apps. And if there’s an app that can (even indirectly) improve your health, chances are you’ll want it. A 58% chance to be exact — that’s how many people use at least one app to improve their health.
When it comes to tracking various metrics, 49% of people surveyed used apps to track at least one of the activities listed in the survey. Exceptions were Malaysia, France, Spain, the US, and Switzerland, where more than half of people used tracking apps. Sweden and Italy, however, were the least likely to do that — 38% and 41% respectively.
The most tracked activities globally were working out (25%), sleeping (19%), drinking water (17%), and healthy eating (16%).
No single health app was the clear winner, because people from different countries used many different apps. But various step counters, calorie trackers, and mental health apps were among the most popular:
Mental health and meditation apps were more popular in English-speaking countries.
Fitness apps and step counters were in the top three of all countries surveyed.
Localized health apps were also widely popular: More than 50% of Malaysians use MySejahtera, 19% of Austrians use MeineSV, and 17% of French use Compte Ameli.
Malaysia stood out from the rest, where 8 out of 10 people claimed they use at least one app to support their mental or physical health. In contrast, less than 5 out of 10 Canadians reported regularly using health apps.
Limit how much information you give to companies. You might pay for a service, but the provider could still treat your private information carelessly or suffer a data breach after a cyberattack. Always keep in mind that you’re the one who’s responsible for your data.
Use NordVPN and its Threat Protection feature to block third-party trackers and limit your overall digital footprint. Blocking trackers makes it harder for advertisers to build a detailed online profile on you, allowing you to use online services in more privacy and avoid intrusive targeted ads and unfair prices.
Stick to known, reputable app developers and be mindful of what information and access permissions you give them. You can also use additional resources to check the apps you want before installing them, like Mozilla’s *Privacy Not Included to check the security standards or the Exodus tracker database to test an app for trackers and permissions.
NordVPN commissioned the survey, and Cint carried it out in most countries — only respondents from Sweden were questioned by Norstat. Quotas were placed on age, gender, and place of residence to achieve a nationally representative sample among internet users.
Time of the study
In most countries, the survey took place between May 15 and May 26, 2023. In Malaysia, the survey was conducted between April 4 and April 19, 2023.
Number of respondents
The number of respondents per country was 1,000, with the exception of Spain (800) and Switzerland (900).
Age of the respondents
Respondents from all countries were all 18 years and older. The only country with a set age limit was Malaysia, where only people aged 18-64 were surveyed.
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