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NIGERIAN STUDENTS AND SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION
‘For most people, social networking sites are harmful, distractive platforms which have caused a great deal of moral decadence among out teenage students. It has shifted the eyes of the young teenagers from studies to other vices, thus causing the paucity of academic quality among young people in Nigeria; for others, it is the entertaining form of engagement which has become almost compulsory for the teenage students in Nigeria.”
-Culled from: the impact of social networking sites on teenagers in Nigeria
Technological advancement and the growth of the internet have made communications and exchange of information easier and faster in a way that would have been thought impossible a century ago. The usage of the internet later advanced and gave birth to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram purposely created to allow friends and families stay in touch and which has reshaped the way we live and interact as a species. Technology, however, is a two-edged sword.
Over the years, social networking sites have metamorphosed from few user-based sites into phenomena that have become niches for billions of users; its growth and popularity have consequently generated concerns among school authorities, communication experts and socio-psychological researchers about the benefits and potential risks facing undergraduates as they get embroiled in its use, almost always to the detriment of academic study and research.
The fact is that the social media as a general term used to describe the collection of information channels dedicated towards interaction, content sharing and collaboration (and in the context of its use by students) has many advantages which range from strengthening interpersonal relationship and serving as a forum to channel one’s belief and stances on various issues such as religion, politics and culture. Social media also offers plenty of opportunities for learning and interactivity and it is not too hard to see how students and its users benefit from using social media
However, besides these positive impacts of using social media networks, there are obvious negative consequences of its usage and addiction. As noted by Sherry Turkle; the founder and director of MIT initiative on Technology and Self:
‘Networked, we are together, but so lessened are our expectations of each other that we feel utterly alone, and there is the risk that we come to see each other as objects to be accessed and only for the parts that we find useful, comforting or amusing.”
Recent researches have shown that a large number of Nigerian students are becoming increasingly addicted to the social media and more often than not, this addiction wins every battle between ‘productivity’ and ‘sheer waste of time’. It has been noted that students are tempted to multitask and get involved in other activities on social media sites while studying thereby directly affecting their concentration and academic performance.
There is also a huge problem that has materialized in the form of slangs and internet language. Using shortened form of words is not only seen as permitted but actually encouraged on social networking sites, a habit and tendency that somehow find its way into academic works and which consequently negatively affects students’ command of the English language and their creative writing skills.
The excessive use of the social media affects the mental as well as physical health as students no longer read, eat or sleep on time. Addiction to these sites also makes students lethargic and unmotivated to actually get up and go to the library, attend classes or otherwise remain productive. Other disadvantages include psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, poor eating habits and lack of physical exercise, short span attention, and of course addiction.
But the question really is “what constitute excessive use?” and although it is difficult if not impossible to define precisely what constitute excessive use, we can derive insight from the observation that irrespective of age or status, most university undergraduates now start the day by checking their Facebook accounts and/or Whatsapp messages. Though hard to define, a case of addiction can be identified with relative ease and whichever way one paints it, Addiction is a disease.