The tide of technology has unrepentantly swept through the nations of the world, and Nigeria is not exempted from its wave. It is now common place for every sector of the nation to tune its activities in harmony with the melody of technology. Admittedly, technology encompasses all forms of inventions, methods, machines, devices equipment, etc that are employed to make work easier and, of course, life more comfortable but our concern in this discourse shall be exclusively on social media technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Skype, Instagram, Web video conferencing, WhatsApp to name a few, and the resultant imprint they make on education.
The ever-evolving social media has stealthily permeated the nook and cranny of the society such that virtually every individual who can read and write and can access the internet has been subconsciously drawn into its web. It is almost impossible, if not a thing of disrepute, to find an undergraduate who is not connected to social network. The menace does not leave out secondary school students as there is hardly any sixteen-year old in towns and cities of the modern day Nigerian society who does not have a profile on at least one social site. Against this backdrop, we make bold to assert that the social media has come to stay, but the question is whether for good or otherwise.
It would amount to sheer prejudice to pontificate that the adoption of social media by students has been of no beneficence whatsoever. This is because education has in many ways than one been advanced by social media. Take for example, the use of social networks such as Skype and other video conferencing mediums has made distant learning easy and way productive. More so, social media promotes greater collaboration in group works or projects through forums such as WhatsApp as well as Facebook groups, and also makes sharing of learning materials easier. The comfort and chance to learn at one’s pace which social media affords students cannot also be overlooked.
These impressive benefits do not, however, rule out the adverse effects of social media on the Nigerian education system since there are two sides to a coin. These consequences are mostly as a result of abuse of the social media. To start with, the addictive use of the social media is a danger that calls for great concern. It is not uncommon to find students engrossed in online chats and discussions during lectures and as a result end up gaining little or nothing from such classes. Many students cannot part with their phones for a few hours for the empty reason of keeping up with trends on the social media. Worse still, during study hours, diehard social media addicts are found peeping into their gadgets for notifications! By reason of addiction, undergraduates spend bulk of the time on social networks chatting with other netizens, viewing or sharing pictures as well as several other activities that go without mention.
The social media has also proven to be of inimical consequences on students’ ability to write and spell correctly since online discussions are largely done in the social media language which largely involves abbreviations in order to help users to keep up with the pace, and as a result, learners lose accuracy in written words.
In addition, psychologists have attested to students’ inability to think independently without making recourse to the internet for knowledge. This results in examination malpractice, and invariably expulsion from school. More so, several students have been found to be unable to engage in formal and productive face to face conversations because they are safer in their social media personalities.
Other impacts include loss of self esteem, waste of money, exposure to addictive amatory contents, loss of morality, lack of productivity, etc. As a matter of fact, the after effects of social media cannot be exhaustively itemised.
Nevertheless, the social media has come to stay and cannot be proscribed owing to its concurrent benefits. It therefore behooves undergraduates to utilize it objectively and productively. Parents and teachers at the secondary levels may as well control students’ access to the social media to avoid its abuse.