Consumers benefit from virtual experiences but are concerned about the wearability and safety of technology

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People are resilient and masters of their digital lives, optimizing the tools they use and balancing their virtual and physical worlds. But a new report from Deloitte suggests that the sheer number of devices — and the work involved in managing them — is causing ongoing technology fatigue and screen-loading problems.

24 percent of consumers are overwhelmed by the tools and subscriptions they need to manage, down from 32 percent last year. For smart home technology, 27% of users report that these devices have added too much complexity to their lives.

Consumers also have concerns about data security and privacy, including the possibility of location data being tracked, the report said.

This caused a slight reduction in equipment. While American households will remain cluttered with technology devices in 2022, on average, they now have a total of 22 connected devices, down from 25 in 2021.

More than half of those surveyed are concerned about security vulnerabilities in their smartphones (54%) and smart home devices (52%). 40% of users are concerned about data security on their smartwatches and fitness trackers.

“Technology companies, device makers, apps and telcos all have an opportunity to help consumers improve their devices and connectivity and enjoy better virtual experiences,” the report said. “Companies that can do this while giving consumers greater transparency and control over data security and privacy can gain an edge over the competition.”

The illusion remains constant

Although the impact of the pandemic on remote experiences is mild, 45% of surveyed consumers said one or more family members were working from home at least some of the time (down from 55% in 2021) and 23% reported one or more family members were present. School away from home at least some of the time (down from 43% in 2021).

Virtual healthcare appointments remain popular, with 49% of surveyed consumers attending at least one virtual medical appointment as a patient in the past year, according to the report.

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Consumers want to “control their digital world”.

This time of year, fewer people are working and studying from home, making some homes less crowded and reducing the strain on people, devices and networks. Consumers are striking a balance between the virtual and the physical. They’re upgrading the devices they use and choosing to move forward with the virtual experiences they love best.

Last year, 15% of consumers with home Internet upgraded their home Internet service to higher speeds, and 44% purchased “signal boosters” such as Wi-Fi extenders and mesh networking equipment to increase coverage in the home. Of these, the majority (87%) reported that their new device improved Wi-Fi performance.

68% of smart home users say the technology helps them feel safer. Of those with a smart thermostat, 69% say their device helps reduce their energy costs.

Consumers want apps and experiences designed specifically for 5G

For consumers considering their next smartphone purchase, 5G is the third most important feature behind battery life and data storage. 5G is the second most important motivator (behind “better value for money”) for 24% of respondents likely to switch mobile service providers in the next year.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents who own a smartphone less than a year old have 5G capability (up from 56% of respondents in 2021).

48% of 5G smartphone users said the service exceeded their expectations, while another 45% said it met their expectations.

However, 73% of 5G smartphone users say they want a better understanding of what new things they can do with 5G, and 30% are disappointed by the lack of new applications and services that use 5G.

Working from home has decreased but remains important

By 2022, remote work has declined, but is still significant. Forty-five percent of consumers surveyed said one or more family members worked from home at least some of the time, down from 55% in 2021, and 47% of employed adults said they worked from home at least some of the time last year.

Those with remote work experience strongly prefer to have virtual or hybrid options in the future.

Of those who worked from home last year, 99 percent said they appreciated aspects of the experience. The benefits they rated the most were less commuting, improved comfort, reduced risk of illness, better concentration, and improved family bonding.

More than eight in 10 remote workers report that their family relationships, professional relationships, and physical and mental well-being have improved or maintained.

Seventy-six percent of employed adults who have worked from home in the past year choose virtual or hybrid options in the future, while only 21% want to work mostly or entirely in person.

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Concerns about security, privacy, technology fatigue

While consumers feel that their devices and virtual experiences are positively impacting their lives, there are still some concerns around privacy, controlling screen time and the complexity of the technology.

Security and privacy are top of mind.

50% of respondents are concerned about security breaches (eg, hackers stealing personal information) and 41% are concerned about their devices being spied on. Nearly half (49%) of smart home users are concerned about hackers “taking over” their smart devices (for example, changing thermostat settings).

Technology fatigue is still a problem

A quarter (24%) of consumers are overwhelmed by the tools and subscriptions they need to manage – down from 32% last year. For smart home technology, 27% of consumers report that these devices add too much complexity to their lives.

“What we learned from this year’s Connectivity and Mobile Trends survey is that consumers are becoming more savvy about their digital lives – they’re being more intentional about deciding which activities they want to engage in and which ones are best suited to be there,” said Deloitte LLP’s vice chairman and U.S. technology leader. Paul Silvergelt said in a statement that some people’s virtual and digital needs have had a positive impact on families, education and health and fitness, which, combined with the need for stronger security and data privacy, will ultimately create more demand for technology companies.

The third edition of Deloitte’s 2022 Connectivity and Mobile Trends survey surveyed 2,005 US consumers in the first quarter of 2022, the firm said.

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