CPH Tech Policy Brief #2

Urban-Rural Divide in Smartphone Usage 

What are the differences in access and use of smartphones in the urban-rural divide?

Anna Sapienza, Sune Lehmann,  Laura Alessandretti and Marita Litla have summarised their latest data memo examining how
exposure to certain contexts - in this case urban and rural environments - can influence the use of smartphones.

This CPH Tech Policy Brief #2 shares insights from the analysis of a a world-wide sample of 500K anonymised users.

The brief dives deeper into the benefits and drawbacks of smartphone engagement:

  • Shares insights from there urbaness index, that measures the level at which specific smartphone activities are predominant in urban areas
  • Shows that patterns of smartphone-usage are more complex than what we assume

The briefs key finding is that individuals living in rural environments use smartphones less than their urban counterparts, on average. However, the results indicate that individuals who live in the countryside tend to use the smartphone for activities that are associated with smartphone addiction, i.e. social media networking and gaming, and more importantly how peoples smartphone usage change, when they move from the urban to the rural and vice versa. This carries implications for how we design and equally offer services to individuals, as environments that provide a multitude of stimuli can incentivize intentional digital consumption and limit engagement with social media and games.