Use of Smartphones Differs in Urban and Rural Settings

Use of Smartphones Differs in Urban and Rural Settings

Although smartphones have complicatedly changed human behavior, using a smartphone can also change its context. Alessandretti and associates examined a global dataset comprising 464,455 smartphone users, of which 324,391 were classified as urban and 52,290 as rural.

Urban users in most countries used their phones for an average of 174.9 minutes per day, while rural users used them for 152.2 minutes. While users in rural areas were more likely than those in urban areas to spend time on apps categorized as weather (+29.9%), shopping (+18.3%), social (+8.8%), and game (+8.8%), urban users were more likely to spend time on apps categorized as maps and navigation (+150.0%), news (+38.7%), travel and local (+28.7%), music (+20.0%), business (+19.3%), and productivity (+13.7%).

Even the social media apps that users use differ between urban and rural areas. Urban users were more likely to use Instagram (+14.3) and Twitter (+24.2) during the study period of 2015–2019, while rural users preferred Facebook (+17.8%) and Snapchat (+22.5). Participants in the database showed a tendency to adjust their usage to fit their new environments when they relocated from the city to the country or vice versa, indicating that environment rather than personality is what drives the differences.

In urban areas with more to do, smartphones are more often used to facilitate access to social engagements; in contrast, smartphones are more commonly used to entertain users in rural areas with limited access to services like restaurants, sports fields, or other social destinations.

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