A1 Telekom Austria Group

Results of the A1 Social Impact Survey 14: How Smartphones Are Changing Our Linguistic Behaviour

Vienna, 27 August 2014
  • All Austrians agree: our linguistic behavior is strongly influenced by technology (58%), followed by the young generations and youth culture (50%)
  • Spelling mistakes in today's digital communication are mainly tolerated by young people under 24 yrs (60%)
  • Digital communication is used on public transportation (50%) and during private get-togethers (32%)
  • Mobile app usage continues to increase: 56% of those surveyed are app users, 20% of non-users can, however, imagine using apps in future

According to the Social Impact Survey 2014*, carried out on behalf of the Telekom Austria Group's domestic subsidiary A1, Austrians consider technology to be the most relevant factor influencing people's linguistic behaviour (58%). Half of all those interviewed (50%) are convinced that the younger generations and, more specifically, the youth culture, are a strong influence on our linguistic patterns. This is the predominant opinion among young people under 24 (58%). Media, are considered to be the third strongest influencing factor (42%), with women (48%) estimating the impact of such media on language considerably greater than their male counterparts (36%).

"We are clearly seeing that new technologies are changing people's linguistic behaviour and communication patterns and we are convinced that they will continue to do so also in the future. As the leading communication company, we are obviously very interested in how people communicate to be able to better meet our customers' needs moving forward," said Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO A1 and Telekom Austria Group. "Looking back at these past 15 years, we can definitely say that communication is increasingly becoming less personal, becoming more efficient, and everybody is reachable round the cock," concluded Hannes Ametsreiter.

Austrians Regard Changes in the Use of Language in an Ambivalent Manner
58% of Austrians regard changes in the use of language in both a positive and negative way, whereas one third of those surveyed (33%) consider them rather negative. The most positively rated effects include the vocabulary expansion and renewal (17%), globalisation (16%) modernisation and keeping up with the times (13%). Negative aspects include Anglicisms (20%) along with the loss of the Austrian language and the dialect (20%). Especially young people under 24 view the expansion of the vocabulary as a positive aspect (27%) and people over 55 are more likely to regard Anglicisms as a negative development (31%).

Mistakes Are Absolutely Ok in Digital Communication
According to 41% of Austrians, spelling mistakes in digital communication are tolerable or relatively tolerable. Only 29% regard them as an absolute no-go. Young people under 24 are particularly tolerant in this regard: according to 60% of them, mistakes in digital communication are (relatively) tolerable. Within the 55+ age group, only 29% consider them acceptable. Spelling mistakes are mainly tolerated in text messages (69%) and chats such as WhatsApp and Skype (65%), whereas in work emails only 2% consider them tolerable. "A possible explanation for the high tolerance for mistakes among young people under 24 is that written communication accounts for two-thirds of their mobile phone usage, allowing for the quick and direct exchange of information with their peers, whereas oral communication only accounts for one third of mobile phone usage. Among the general public it is exactly the other way around," said Rudolf Bretschneider, GfK Austria.

People's Everyday Language is also Undergoing Major Changes: People Speak Differently Nowadays
According to a quarter of those surveyed (25%), their everyday language has undergone a major change. Only 13% stated that it has not changed at all. 47% of the young people under 24 feel that a strong change in their linguistic patterns is underway and only 18% of the 55+ age group share this view. Young people under 24 (29%) also perceive more strongly than people over 55 (12%) that these changes have positive effects on their personal lives. 60% of the survey participants over 29 think that their usage of the language strongly differs from they way people under 30 generally speak. Only 7% do not notice any difference.

Digital Communication Takes Place On Public Transportation, at Private Get-Togethers and Even On the Toilet
Austrians like to text-message on public transportation (50%) during private get-togethers (32%) and when they meet friends (27%). 26% communicate with modern communications devices in the bedroom and 21% even when they are on the toilet.

Messaging Services, Photos/Videos and Social Networks Are Gathering Momentum
While in 2013 only 11% of the survey participants used messaging services on their mobile devices and smartphones, this year this figure has increased to 52%. The same applies to sending photos and videos via the mobile device ((2013: 31%; 2014: 49%) and the usage of social networks (2013: 27%; 2014: 39%). "In this case, gender clichés are confirmed: young women between 12 and 29 years are particularly keen on using social networks and communications services as well as on sending photos and videos," added Mr. Bretschneider.

Apps: Usage Continues to Grow, 4/5 Are Free of Charge
While in 2011 only one quarter of the survey participants (25%) used apps, in 2014, app users account for 56% and this trend is continuing: 20% of non-users predict they will download applications from the app store to their mobile phones over the next twelve months. Free apps are particularly popular: 83% do not use any fee-based apps, in 2010, only two thirds (67%) used apps free of charge. The trend towards smartphone usage is also unbroken: in 2010, only one third of those surveyed (32%) had a smartphone, in 2014 smartphone-users account for 72% of respondents. Among young people between 12 und 29 years of age, smartphone usage already amounts to 89%. 16% of non-users plan to purchase one over the next few months.

The Mobile Phone Conveys a Sense of Security and Makes Life Easier
88% respectively 73% of the survey participants consider it important, that elderly people respectively children are equipped with a mobile phone in emergency situations. 75% feel more secure to have a mobile phone when travelling. Mobile devices enhance user convenience: according to 79% of those surveyed, the mobile phone facilitates the coordination with friends and family and, according to 74% of respondents a mobile device makes life much easier in general.

Not Always Being Reachable and Going Off-Line Is In
While in 1999, 85% of those surveyed were keen to be reachable round the clock, in 2014, only 69% are willing to be reached at all times. In 2014, 6 in 10 users (59%) have intentionally left their mobile phone at home to avoid being disturbed. In 2009, this figure amounted to 46%. In 1999, only one fifth of the survey participants (22%) regarded the mobile phone as 'troublemaker', in 2014 they already account for 39%. While in 2002, the mobile phone was put on silent mode for 1.9 hours per day during the week, in 2014, the silent mode accounts for 5.2 hours per day. In contrast, the time during which a mobile phone remains switched off during weekdays has diminished in recent years: in 2002, a mobile phone remained switched off for 5.3 hours a day, in 2014 for only 3.1 hours.


* The A1 Social Impact Study was carried out for the 15th time in 2014. The market and research institute GfK Austria has been examining the influence of mobile communications on society in this representative survey since 1999. One thousand mobile phone users over the age of 12 were surveyed across Austria between July 10 and 18, 2014.

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