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A Digital Inclusion Project to Empower Thailand’s Seniors

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Thailand’s demographic landscape is undergoing a significant transformation, with a growing ageing population prompting the imperative for individuals aged 60 and above to embrace digital literacy.

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As of 2016, 11% of the Thai population, about 7.5 million people, were 65 years or older, compared to 5% in 1995. By 2040, it is projected that 17 million Thais will be 65 years or older, which is more than a quarter of the population. In 2022, the share of the population older than 60 years old in Thailand accounted for 19.46%. Poverty among older adults is a concern, with 34% of Thai seniors living below the poverty line.

Dr Phnom Kleechaya’s research project aims to address the unique challenges faced by the elderly in an increasingly digitalised society. Recognising the importance of empowering this demographic with the necessary skills and knowledge, Dr Phnom’s initiative focuses on enhancing the technology intelligence of the elderly to bolster their security in various aspects of life.

The multifaceted nature of the project reflects the complex needs of the elderly in the modern world. Dr Phnom’s vision extends beyond mere technological literacy, encompassing critical areas such as income security, health, and overall well-being in the context of the new normal ageing society. By integrating technology into the daily lives of the elderly, the project seeks to bridge the digital divide and create a more inclusive environment.

The research involves a comprehensive study of the specific challenges faced by the elderly in the realms of finance, healthcare, and general lifestyle. Dr Phnom and his team engaged with the elderly community to understand their unique perspectives, concerns, and needs. This collaborative approach ensures that the solutions proposed are not only technologically sound but also culturally sensitive and tailored to the diverse experiences of the elderly population.

One aspect of the project involves:

  • Developing user-friendly applications and interfaces designed specifically for the elderly.
  • Considering factors such as ease of use.
  • Accessibility.
  • Relevance to their daily lives.

These tools aim to empower the elderly to manage their finances securely, access healthcare resources efficiently, and navigate the digital landscape with confidence.

Leading the research project as the head, Assoc Prof Dr Phnom elucidated that the study was conducted under the purview of the Faculty of Communication Arts’ Digital Intelligence and Literacy Research Unit (DIRU). The initiative received financial support from the Foundation of Thai Gerontology Research and Development Institute, underscoring the collaborative efforts aimed at fostering digital inclusivity for the elderly.

The primary objective of the project was to cultivate Active Aging through digitalisation, empowering the elderly to navigate the digital society with proficiency. The focus extended beyond mere technological adaptation, emphasising the use of digital tools for income generation, promoting better health, and enhancing overall quality of life.

Through meticulous research, it became evident that for the elderly to thrive in a digital society, a paradigm shift in perspective was essential. Acknowledging the opportunities arising from technology, adapting to new lifestyles, and bridging the generation gap became crucial elements.

The study highlighted the necessity for a comprehensive platform that facilitates the safe navigation of technology and enables access to government welfare services available online. Moreover, instilling a sense of pride among the elderly emerged as a prerequisite for leveraging technology as a means to achieve income stability.

The research proposed a multifaceted approach encompassing education, the creation of dedicated platforms, the development of online content tailored to the elderly, fostering a sense of pride as a precursor to income generation, and fostering understanding and collaboration within the elderly community.

Assoc Prof Dr Phnom imparted a valuable message to younger researchers, urging them to approach societal issues with empathy. Reflecting on the genesis of the research, he emphasised the importance of addressing the generation gap and facilitating the elderly’s adaptation to the digital society.

In the future, Assoc Prof Dr Phnom envisioned further research and productions, including innovative approaches such as video clips that adopt a “Rashomon” style. This technique involves presenting situations from different angles and perspectives, aiming to depict a nuanced reality that may be perceived differently or narrated in contradictory ways. The objective is to delve into dimensions of problems that have yet to be explored comprehensively, offering fresh insights and perspectives on issues, particularly in the three southernmost provinces.

Assoc Prof Dr Phnom’s pioneering research not only addresses the immediate challenge of digital adaptation for the elderly but also lays the groundwork for a broader understanding of societal issues, promoting inclusivity and fostering a more nuanced approach to problem-solving in the digital age.


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