While in previous years the demand for smartphones soared in Thailand, today Thai smartphone users have made record as frontrunners in social media shopping.
Thais access the Internet with their smartphones for different purposes, including for business or professional transactions. Yet half ot Thailand’s Internet users connect to social media sites most of the time. Statista’s 2019 statistics revealed that Thai citizens spend an average of 2 and a half hours at social media sites, out of the average 9-hour per day that they stay connected to the Internet. The most popular sites visited include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and Line.
According to Ariya Banomyong, Google’s Thailand manager, Thais spend an overall average of 16 hours per week on the Internet, while spending only 10 hours watching TV during the same period.
What is notable though is that the longer period spent at social media sites also spurred an increase in online shopping activities, as purchases at social network sites make-up 51% of Thailand’s growing e-commerce. Based on a worldwide survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the percentage of Thailand’s social media shopping activities is way above the global average of 16% and when compared with other Asian countries: 27% in China, 32% in india and 31% in Malaysia.
Most Thais browse the market places of social platforms looking for various products such as clothes, cars, real estate, fruits and vegetables. Last year, 20% of the country’s total online sales had transformed Thailand’s e-commerce into social commerce. The trend is rising, which also opened new avenues for e-wallet providers, online payment systems, parcel delivery services and advertising media.
However, Thailand’s youths are among those noted to have been spending prolonged hours in social media platforms. That being the case, they have been exposed to all kinds of social media advertisements including promotions for online gambling websites.
Concerns Raised on Exposure of Thailand’’s Youth to Online Gambling Advertisements
AIESEC, an international non-profit, non-government organization focused on empowering the youth to make a progressive social impact found out that Thai’s young people were spending an average of six hours a day playing online games, while also connected to social media platforms. During the periods spent at social media sites, AIESEC learned from a survey that young Thais are exposed to online gambling advertisements for about 70% of the time.
AIESEC’s survey was conducted from March to May 2020, involving 1,000 Thai youths ranging between ages 15-19. Forty-seven percent (47.4%) of those who participated in the survey said they actually viewed the gambling advertisements along with other promotional campaigns for music, movies and online video games. The social media platforms most visited by the young participants are Facebook (76.53%) and Line (32.50%)
AIESEC’s Thai allies led by the Children and Youth Council of Thailand and allies conducted a seminar to explore and discuss how Thai’s youth sector responded to the online gambling advertisements appearing in social media sites. The council learned that 13.24% of those who viewed the online gambling ads started to gamble for real money.
The five most popular types of real money gambling activities are fish shooting games (31.68%), lottery games (19.80%) and คาสิโนออนไลน์ games like slots (17.82%) and baccarat (15.84%) as well as sports betting (14.85%).
Apparently, the report on these studies reached Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha who acted on the concerns by instructing the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) to work with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission. Their task is to make sure all Thai Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and mobile network carriers will block all online gambling sites, and prevent them from accessing the country’s network of broadband technologies.
In his directive, Thai PM Chan-o-cha also highlighted the importance of preventing online gambling advertisements from being viewed by Thailand’s young people.