Science 3 min read

Smartphone Authentication Method can Reveal a Person's Age

mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found a link between smartphone authentication methods and various age groups.

According to the study, older smartphone users often rely on their device’s auto-lock feature than the younger ones. Also, they would preferably unlock their phones using PINs than the fingerprint.

That’s not all. The researchers noted that older people tend not to unlock their smartphone when on the move. Instead, they prefer stationary situations such as when sitting at home or a desk.

While past researches have studies the various ways our smart devices affect us, none has explored how various ages interact with the device’s unlock feature, until now.

Speaking about the study, electrical and computer engineering professor at UBC, Konstantin Beznosov said:

“As researchers working to protect smartphones from unauthorized access, we need to first understand how users use their devices. 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.”

How Smartphone Authentication Varies Across Age Groups

For the study, the researchers tracked down 134 participants between ages 19 and 63.

Next, they installed a custom app on the participant’s Android phones. That way, they could collect data on lock and unlock events for two consecutive months.

These include a choice of auto or manual unlock as well as whether users locked or unlocked their phones while on the move. Also, the app recorded how long each user session lasted.

Analysis of the data showed that younger participants used their phones more frequently than the older ones. There was a 25 percent increase in the number of user sessions for every 10-year age increase.

For example, while 35-years old might use their device 15 times a day, 25 years-old would five times more.

The study also noted a gender difference in authentication choices. As men age, they tend to rely more on auto lock features, compared with women that still stick with the manual lock.

Women also have a higher overall smartphone usage than men at the early stages of their life. For example, women in their 20s have longer screen time than their male peers.

However, the story changes as the participants advance in age. The researchers noted that men in their 50s logged in longer usage time than women of the same age.

The reason for this varied smartphone authentication is still unknown. However, the researchers believe that their findings can help smartphone makers create better products

Beznosov noted:

“Factors such as age should be considered when designing new smartphone authentication systems, and devices should allow users to pick the locking method that suits their needs and usage patterns.”

The researchers presented their findings at the CHI conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Glasgow, Scotland.

Read More: Using Your Smartphone at the Store Could Make You Buy More

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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