The study assessed Thai university student experiences and perceptions on the use of social media within the framework of socio-political and educational contexts. It employed the descriptive-correlation research design utilizing a survey questionnaire to gather data from 27 respondents chosen randomly. The findings showed that among the top social media platforms used by the respondents are Line (100%), Facebook (96.3%), Instagram (92.6%), Youtube (88.9%), and FB Messenger (77.8%). Averagely, the respondents spend ‘sometimes’ (3-4 hours a day) on social media. Separately, they spend ‘very often’ (5-6 hours a day) on Facebook and Line. In contrast, Thai students spend averagely ‘seldom’ (1-2 hours a day) on traditional media platforms such as television, radio, magazine and newspaper, SMS text messaging, forums and conferences and library.
Further, Thai students generally spend ‘sometimes’ in doing social, political and educational activities in social media. However, they spend ‘very often’ in two social activities particularly to socialize or connect with friends and families, and to read posts and other stories. The respondents use social media ‘sometimes’ in getting political information, reading news and articles about local and national issues, watching video and pictures about a political issue, and talking to a friend or family about a socio-political issue while they spend ‘sometimes’ in all educational activities.
Thai university students generally ‘agree’ that educational factors influence social media activities than social and political factors. In particular, the respondents ‘agree’ that factors such as opportunity of utilizing free internet access, easy access to information, and knowledge taught in classrooms are influencing their social media activities. Moreover, Thai students generally ‘neither agree nor disagree’ that social media is impacting in social, political and educational aspects. However, the respondents specifically ‘agree’ that social media makes dissemination of information to citizens faster and can educate citizens on new things.
On the other hand, Thai students generally ‘agree’ on the educational role of social media particularly as an academically recognized online forums for exchange of ideas, and as a source of educational materials. Generally, they ‘neither agree nor disagree’ on its social and political role. However, the respondents ‘agree’ on its social role to offer personal opinions and views, and its political role to increase criticisms and demands against the government or a politician.
Employing pearson test for correlation, a significant correlation existed between educational activities and political factors (p-value=.040), and between political activities and political roles (p-value=.020). Furthermore, using one-way ANOVA test, a significant difference existed in social impact when grouped as to sex (p-value=.027), and in social factor (p-value=.008), in political impact (p-value=.016) and in social impact (p-value-.013) when all grouped as to monthly household income.
Keywords: student experiences, student perceptions, social media, Thai youth
(This paper was submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement in Research Methods at the Institute of Diplomacy & International Studies at Rangsit University, Pathumthani, Thailand.)
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