Thais feel embarrassed if they don't know what's going on on the Internet: Prof

Information consumption by Thais has been changing in the digital age with millions of people now spending many hours a day on the Internet and trying to stay updated about all the hot issues there, a media and marketing guru told an academic seminar yesterday.

Assoc Prof Seri Wongmontha said many Thais now felt embarrassed if they did not know what was going on on the Internet.

"To many, the Internet has become indispensable," he said at the Digi Thai in Digital Age seminar.

Doctorate students of the Graduate School of Communication Arts and Management Innovation and the National Institute of Development Administration organised the event.

The speakers included Seri, Assoc Prof Panitan Wattanayagorn from Chulalongkorn University, and Nation Multimedia Group editor-in-chief Thepchai Yong.

Seri said surveys had revealed that Thais in the Digital Age used the Internet for several hours each day through computers and smartphones.

"More than 25 per cent of Thais use social media. They spend roughly 3.37 hours a day on social media," he added.

Seri said with Internet, the new generation of Thais also relied heavily on search engines. "When they want to find information about something, they conduct searches on the Internet."

Thepchai said digital media reflected social progress, as they provided space for people to express themselves and present information too.

"With digital media, information consumption in Thailand has changed significantly. Gone are the days when people had to rely mainly on newspapers and TV stations," he pointed out.

Thepchai also expressed the hope that when digital-media users exercised more reasoning, the Digital Age was going to become truly meaningful and useful to society.

He warned that the sharing of hate-speech messages, for example, could have bad consequences. "Be cautious about online posts that can affect the society," he said.

Panitan said Thais should seriously think about how to use the rich trove of information on the Internet properly. "There's amazing information all over the Internet. So, don't browse the Internet simply for entertainment," he said.