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Net-savvy teens drift away from traditional media

July 5, 2000

THAI teens are spending so much of their time studying and surfing the Internet that they are drifting away from the traditional media, a joint study by Ogilvy & Mather and Chulalongkorn University's faculty of communication arts has found.

The study, called "The World of Thai Teens: the Chit-Ch@t Gener@tion", has broader implications for the role of the traditional media on Thais in the future as the teens grow up. It also casts doubts over the effectiveness of commercials presently targeted at the Thai teens since most of them have less leisure time to watch television, listen to radio or read their favourite magazines.

Witawat Jayapani, the managing director of Ogilvy & Mather, and Dr Yubol Benjarongkij of Chulalonkorn University, provided an insight into the behaviour of the Thai teens, caught between their yearning to socialise with friends and a wish to explore interactive communication through the Internet.

They and their research assistants questioned 1,100 Thai teens, aged between 13-19 years, in Phitsanulok, Khon Kaen, Bangkok, Kanchanaburi and Nakhon Si Thammarat provinces to get a fair representation. The research was conducted between May 10 and June 10 this year through in-depth interviews.

 

The most popular use of the computer among Thai teens is to talk to their friends in chat rooms, followed by e-mail, playing games, looking at pictures, ICQ and finally surfing the net for information.

The findings showed that the Thai teens aged between 13-17 years spend as much as nine to 10 hours studying on average. Under pressure to excel in education, they have more homework to do and must take special tutorial classes on weekdays. On weekends, they also spend about four to six hours at tutorials hoping to get a head-start in education.

This leaves them with only two hours a day for relaxing. The study found that this leisure time is spent on sports, watching TV, listening to music, reading non-school related materials, and socialising with their friends.

What is striking with this study is a finding that the Thai teens spend about three hours on interactive communication on the Internet. Those in the age group of 18 to 19, who are largely first-year college students, spend less time studying. But they devote an equally long period of time - three to five hours - using computers and communicating on the Internet.

The study found that the most popular use of the computer among Thai teens is to talk to their friends in chat rooms, followed by e-mail, playing games, looking at pictures, ICQ and finally surfing the net for information.

The findings showed that most Thai teens have no problem getting access to the Internet even though they might not own a computer at home. For the Internet is easily accessed in all big cities at schools or Internet cafés.

Witawat said most commercials targeted at the Thai teens appear to have missed out, both in messages and the points of contact, given a changing lifestyle.

Probably as a result of the economic crisis, the Thai teens are less conscious about brands but pay more attention to the value of their money. Asked whether they were willing to spend Bt60,000, if the money were given to them, on a branded computer like IBM or Compaq, the teens would say that they prefer to spend less money on unbranded computers, which were more powerfully run, with customised specifications.

BY THANONG KHANTHONG

 

 

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