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Mobile Phone Culture in Thailand

Photographer: Diego Azubel, Rungroj Yongrit

 

Excessive mobile phone usage has been a common global phenomenon in the 21st century, with some studies going as far as to label it an addiction; and with 87.5 million mobile subscriptions among the country’s 67.2 million inhabitants, Thailand is no exception. As many users often buy multiple phone numbers, it isn’t surprising that the number of mobile phone subscriptions is higher than the country’s entire population. Worldwide mobile phone subscriptions in 2018 are expected to reach 4.5 billion due to a notable increase in the number of smart-phone subscriptions in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East/Africa regions.

 

According to the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA), recent studies show that Thai people spend more than 50 hours a week on the internet searching information or chatting, and around seven hours a day surfing the internet. However, these figures are sharply increasing as prices of both the devices as well as provider services decrease and become more accessible.

 

Excessive mobile phone usage is characteristically more prevalent among teenagers who grow increasingly attached to technological devices which they use particularly for social networking and entertainment. The dangers of excessive mobile phone usage are varied and many, and there is no shortage of studies on the subject outlining them. Although some studies show the positive sides of mobile technology such as the ability to stay closer to loved ones who live faraway, or to stay current on daily news, there are far too many negative aspects to ignore.

 

These include higher traffic accident rates due to drivers using their phones to text or talk; loss of jobs or relationships to excessive and inappropriate phone usage; musculoskeletal symptoms due to excessive texting; ‘Text neck,’ a the term used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at a mobile phone or other wireless device too often; deterioration in family life due to excessive use of the phone while in family situations; acute anxiety when not receiving replies or are unable to get a connection; harassment in chatrooms and bullying of school aged youngsters; and of course the danger of sexual predators as more and more teenagers visit online dating sites.