The study examines the usage pattern of social media by undergraduate students of Delta State University, Abraka. Social media have become a common activity in the world today which has broken the barriers of distance that has hampered communication. The study adopted technology determinism theory of mass communication. The study makes use of one hundred and twenty (120) students as the sample size of the research work. The purposive sampling of the non-probability sampling was adopted. Data of the study were analyzed with simple percentage and tables. The study concluded that students frequently use the social media for different activities, students spent average of three hours daily accessing social media, facebook and instagram top among the social media platform use by students of Delta State University, Abraka. The study recommended that students should ensure that they balance their activities on social media with their academic activities so that they can increase their performance in school which happens to be their priority and students should reduce the number of time they spent on social media daily accessing social media.
1.1 Background to the Study
The world has received new way of communication since the advent of social media in early 2000. Communication now is rather more sophisticated and available for any one. Social media are common among people especially the youth. Social media have become a common activity in the world today which has broken the barriers of distance that has hampered communication. According to Samuel (2014), the invention of the internet brought a new dimension to the media and social relationship landscape, marked the beginning of technological transformation and socialization with a higher desire for information about everything. This slowly essentially is information about people. Simeon, Sitalaskshmi, Doriane, Donelle and Tom (2011) stated that social media are phenomena that have transformed the interaction and communication of individuals throughout the world. Many people can now perform communication function with ease. The coverage is of large impression.
The place of social media in communication cannot be overemphasized due to the fact that communication brings people together and foster peaceful co-existence. As such, social interaction is as old as man. However, the medium of engaging this social interaction is the phenomenon. Emile Durkheim, French sociology is known by many as the father of sociology; and Ferdinand Tonnies a German sociologist, are considered pioneers of social networks during the late 1800s. The bedrock of media is the socialization. For man to relate they must be a Channel or media. That medium must enhance understanding of cues from parties involved in communication. According to Olalekan (2003), the case of social media is preferably a sociological perspective which is the science of studying the society with a view to know the social institutions such as the family, group, association, village or state and the complexities arising from their social relationship or interactions. It emphasizes the importance of social factors like human relations, formal and information organizations, team work, communication in the pursuit of knowledge about man and society.
Social media have evolved over the years to the modern day which uses digital media. Also, it did not start with the advent of computer, but instead the telephone. The key word here is social interaction. As at that time telephone was a new media of social networking and interaction. You could see someone with a diary containing name of friends with their telephone numbers. Simeon et al., (2011) opined “During the 1950’s, phone preaking, the term used for the rogue searching of the telephone network began”.
The scope of 1950 telephone social networking was limited and during the 1960s the public saw a new media dimension in email. In 1969, ARPANET, created by Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), a U.S government agency, was developed. Simeon et al (ARPANET was an “early network of time-sharing computers that formed the basics of the internet”.
In 2000 social media received a great boost with the presence of numerous social media sites. With this rapid transformation in social media technology brought a great transformed social interaction by individuals and organizations who share common interest and goals in education, music, movies and friendship.
Junco, Heiberget and Loken (2011) state “among those that were launched include Lunarstom, six degrees, Cyworld, ryze, and Wikipedia in 2001, fotolog, sky blog and friendster were launched, and in 2003, myspace, linkedin, lastFm, tribe.net. H15 etc. In 2004, popular names like Facebook. Harvard, Goster and Naixi envolved. During 2005, big names like Yahoo, 360, Youtube, Cyword and Black planet all emerged”.
However, each county have different choice of each of the social media. The under developed countries like Nigeria did not key in unit 2004 when Facebook was established. It could be as a result of backwardness in technological advance and poor financial status to acquire computer systems. Few people clusters at public cybercafé to make use of these social media like the Yahoo chat room and the rest.
The advent of smart phones in Nigeria market triggered social media use by Nigeria youth especially the students. Hall (2014), the average college students who belong to at least two social networks and spend at least 15 hours on each in one month. The essence of communication is for sharing and updating of basic information on a particular field of study. Communication either through the media or any channel is to enrich people in the communicative environment with knowledge and advance learning.
The demography of social media users indicates that students of tertiary institution are frequent users of social media for academic purposes. This fact remain valid because the most famous social media; Facebook was created to assist high school students in their academics. Social networks have become an integral part of student social life (Tavares, 2013). These networks have become important as they serve as platforms for student’s users to interact and relate with their peers on social issues as well as academics. Social networks are now been seen as learning platforms or communities that could be utilized to enhance student engagement and performance. Deng and Tavares (2013), were of the view that the notion of learning communities has become increasingly prevalent in schools at all levels.
According to Cross (1998), social media are like a learning community as; that is a group of people who are engaged in learning activities. There is a close relationship between learning and social media. This is seen in the real time online functions of the social media via the video calls, live chat, live conference, live coverage and the rest. Social networks have been seen as platforms that could create a learning environment for students and their peers.
Social network sites (SNS) have become an interesting part of student life as a result of their features and medium of usage. Students engage each other, friends and peers on various issues and topics as well as share interesting things about their lives and their surroundings. Ito (2009), were of the view that, just as it is done in parking lots and shopping centers, young people gather in network public spaces for a number of reasons and these include negotiate identity, gossip, support one another, rider for status, collaborate, share information, flirt and joke.
Delta State University is one of the state universities in Nigeria and it is situated in Abraka; with student population of 36,000, according to DELSU Wikipedia. It was established on 30th April 1992 by the then Executive Governor of the state, Olorogun Felix Ibru. The university is composed of ten faculties including the College, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences; others are Faculties of Arts, Education, Sciences, Social Sciences, Agriculture, Management Sciences, Law and Engineering.
Delta State University, Abraka has been historically recorded as a centre of education. It started as Government Teachers Training College during the colonial era and some years into the post-colonial era; it became College of Education from 1971-1985 that awarded Nigerian Certificate of Education (NCE). It was affiliated to the University of Benin, Benin City and consequently offered degree programmes form 1981 till 1985 when it became the Faculty of Education of the then Bendel State University with campuses at Anwai, Oleh, and the main Campus in Abraka.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Social media are important tools for socialization and entertainment. Social media have come to facilitate and ease social interaction in contemporary society, thus, making it easier for people to unite and communicate with lost friends, obtaining information on what is happening around the world, making use of social marketing, advertising their products, getting information on academic level and so many others. According to Ezeah (2012), the use of the social media as channels of communication is a growing trend in Nigeria now, like in virtually all parts of the globe. In the country, people including university students make use of the new media. Meanwhile, Baran (2010) argues that technology can be used in ways beneficial and otherwise…technology is a double-edged sword. Its power - for good and for bad - resides in us. That is to say, students (users) determine what they do with technology.
However, the social media have been fraught with problems right from inception and these problems has hinder the expected social media growth needed in the society. The major problem which this research work discovered is the misuse of the social network roles by the users. Benkler (2006) attributes the high level of corruption in the economy to the misuse of social media in promoting dubious activities. Such as cybercrime, personification, examination malpractice, pornography, among others; which have equally reduced high educational learning among students? Therefore the problem this research work seeks to investigate is the Delta State University students’ activities and information dissemination on social media.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The study has a general objective to examine the usage pattern of social media by Delta State University, Abraka. However, the specific objectives are as follows:
- To determine the type of social media that is frequently used by students of Delta State University, Abraka.
- To discover the pattern of social media usage by students of Delta State University, Abraka.
- To ascertain the challenges that students of Delta State University, Abraka face while using social media for academic activities.
- To examine the implications of heavy usage of social media by students of Delta State University, Abraka on their academic performances.
1.4 Research Questions
The follow research questions guided the study
- What social media are frequently used by students of Delta State University, Abraka?
- What is the pattern of social media usage by students of Delta State University, Abraka?
- What are the challenges that students of Delta State University, Abraka face while using social media for academic activities?
- What are the implications of heavy usage of social media by students of Delta State University, Abraka on their academic performances?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This research work will help researchers with more information on the students’ activities on social media. It would be relevant in assisting students in understanding the positive and negative effect of using the social media within the context of academics and highlight the usage patter, to enhance utility study. It will provide relevant material for students and other researchers undertaking similar research.
1.6 Scope of Study
The importance of this research work is to primarily study the students’ activities on social media in Delta State University, Abraka. This will reduce cost and avoid complexity that may arise as a result of having a very large population. But, since in most cases, the characteristics of students are generally similar, the research finding would be generalized to include all students of Nigeria universities.
Therefore, the study will focus on the two departments in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Delta State University, Abraka. The academic session for this study is 2018/2019.
1.7 Definition of terms
Social Media: They are forms of electronic communication which facilitate interactive base on certain interests.
Student: Someone who is studying at a university or school. The student regarded as undergraduate.
Internet: This is the network of computers sharing information.
Activities: This is the engagement of person on a particular thing on the Internet or on the social media.
Interaction: This is the act to relate with people through a channel so as to keep relationship close or share vital information together.