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Smartphone locking habit can reveal your age

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Older smartphone users tend to rely more on their phones’ auto lock feature compared to younger users, said researchers, adding that they also prefer using PINs over fingerprints to unlock their phones. The study presented at the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems found that older users are more likely to unlock their phones when working at a desk or sitting at home.

“The study is the first to explore the link between age and smartphone use. As researchers working to protect smartphones from unauthorized access, we need to first understand how users use their devices,” said Konstantin Beznosov, Professor at the University of British Columbia. “By tracking actual users during their daily interactions with their device, we now have real-world insights that can be used to inform future smartphone designs,” Beznosov said.

The analysis also showed that older users used their phone less frequently than younger users. For every 10-year interval in age, there was a corresponding 25 per cent decrease in the number of user sessions. In other words, a 25-year-old might use their phone 20 times a day, but a 35-year-old might use it only 15 times.

The study tracked 134 volunteers, ranging from 19 to 63 years of age, through a custom app installed on their Android phones. According to the researchers, for two consecutive months, the app collected data on lock and unlock events, choice of auto or manual lock and whether the phone was locked or unlocked while in motion. The app also recorded the duration of user sessions.

The study also found gender differences in authentication choices. As their age, men are much more likely to rely on auto locks, as opposed to manually locking their devices, compared to women.

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