• [Article] Social Media and the Decline in Reading Culture

    The phenomenal growth in digital technologies and the rise of social media platforms over the past few years have revolutionized the way in which people communicate and share information. The emergence of new communication technologies has impacted on the society positively and negatively. These technologies have affected the socio-cultural, political and economic structures of the contemporary society. Advancement in technologies have eased and expanded the frontiers of information reception and dissemination among people.

    The Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), particularly the Internet, have impacted greatly on the society, increasing access to information and creating fresh challenges for the society. Social media are seen generally to include all the online creations – blogs, feeds, Google books, podcasts, vidcasts, online video (YouTube, blimps TV, etc), social networks, search engines, affiliate programmes, online games, virtual trade shows, online communities, ebooks, kiosks, to mention a few.

    They are powerful communication tools that have significant impacts on organizational, professional and individual reputations. Social media are platforms with highly accessible digital technologies such as blogs, podcasts, social networks, wikis, micro-blogs and message boards that can be used by the general public for interactions across distance.

    The term ‘social media’ has been defined and explained in different ways by its users, ICT experts, and authors. It has been defined as “a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of the World Wide Web (WWW) and that allows the creation and exchange of user-generated contents.” Looking at social media from a more practical point of view, it can be seen as a “read-write Web, where the online audience moves beyond passive viewing of Web content to actually contributing to the content.” Social media includes web-based and mobile based technologies that have revolutionized the processes of communications into interactive dialogue among individuals, organizations, and communities.

    Examples of the social media platforms include but not limited to the following: LinkedIn, , , YouTube, Flickr, iTunes U, Second Life, Whatsapp, Yahoo Messenger, BlackBerry Messenger and MySpace. These platforms have a two-way interactive process and options that enable communicator interact lively. Their features are common to what is obtainable in a face-to-face communication. These instruments are referred to as media because they are tools which can also be used for the storage and dissemination of information, however unlike the traditional media like Television and Radio, most of the social media tools allow their users to interact as “re-twitting” on and “comment” options on illustrate.

    Social media includes a variety of web-based tools and services that are designed to promote community development through collaboration and information sharing. These tools provide opportunities for individual expressions as well as interactions with other users. These technologies have brought together, many diverse communities and societies around the world. In fact, the world is fast become a “global village” as a result of the new information and communication technologies.

    Today, we are living in a very fast developing and globalizing world. No doubt, scientific innovations and advancement in technologies have eased communication processes. It has also made tasks less tedious in many professions (business, banking, entertainment, and so on). Technologies have transformed our lives in many positive ways. But the negative impacts of these innovations in our social and educational pursuits over-weigh its positives.

    This is in line with the fact that there is hardly anything invented by man, no matter its level of perfection that is without some flaws. Education is a very essential aspect of societal and individuals’ lives. Education to a society is more important than anything. Advancement in technologies has eased the processes of academic research.

    Findings also reveal that, today, students show very much interest in using social networks, which in turn affects education severely. As noted earlier, the negatives of social media on students and education in general supersedes the positives. Social media has lowered the standard of education in Nigeria.

    It has grabbed the attention and concentration of students and diverts them toward non-educational, unethical and inappropriate actions such as examination malpractices. It has made students so lazy that they hardly resort to extensive study before sitting for any examination. Instead of studying very hard to write and pass examinations, students now cultivate the habit of cheating through browsing on their mobile handset while in examination halls. Reading culture among students is on the verge of extinction.

    Concentration in classrooms during lecture periods is now a thing of the past among students. While classes are being held, students lose more than fifty percent concentration to chatting on social networks such as , , Whatsapp, Friendster, Hi5, Mozat, BBM, 2go, among several others. Social networking brought about lose of concentration among students, thereby creating one problem or the other in their education pursuits and performances.

    Communication skills, language usage and creative writing have declined among students, as the new technologies has reduced or taken away their communication skills. On other hand, students hardly speak good English these days. They mostly use slang words or shortened forms of words in writing as a result of complete reliance on computer grammar and spelling check features.

    Though, the emergence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) or the social media has eased the processes of research thereby providing unlimited access to information on virtually all spheres of human endeavours. Looking at the quality of information available on the Internet, one can agree with the fact that most of the information accessed on social media are fabricated. Not all of the information gotten on the social networks (media) are accurate and factual.

    This is because anybody who has access to the Internet can write and share information of all sorts, regardless of their quality. The dependence of students on social media for the sourcing or gathering of materials for academic researches has degraded the value of most academic works undertaken by students.

    Today, students are fond of plagiarism. One can access, copy and use other persons’ works without acknowledgement. This has greatly affected qualitative research among students, especially in tertiary institutions. Creativity among students of our time is also perceived as a waste of efforts as many unserious students see the serious and creative ones as “ There are possible ways out (solutions) to these challenges.

    The challenges are avoidable because they are not beyond control. Stakeholders in the education sector should encourage creativity among students. Creativity should be made a competition among students through sponsorship (scholarship) and other education grants to those who are creative, as this will motivate others to be creative and will boost performances.

    The provision of standard research and practical facilities in schools can also help the situation. Where students lack adequate research facilities like books and other relevant and referencing materials in libraries, they tend to resort to the easy “copy and paste” methods of social media.

    Today, you find out that students write and present final year project works without being able to defend what they claim to have written. There should also be regulation in the education sector with regards to the use of social networks among students. Although, this task can be very tedious to achieve, but the provision of regulatory frameworks in this regard will reduce the challenges posed by social media in the education sector.

    There should be strict rules prohibiting students from carrying along their mobile handsets and other electronic gadgets to classrooms and examination halls so as to encourage full concentration because mobile handsets provide the most easy and cost effective access to social networks compared to computer.

    Parents also have their own roles to play in this direction, through close-monitoring of their children’s activities and academic performances.

    In fact, social media has demeaned culture and morality in the family system. Things were however a little bit under control prior to the advancement in communication technologies.

    Parents are also involved in different immoral activities on social networks. They should discourage these activities (immorality) among themselves and encourage morality in their children as this will reduce the level of addiction to social networking among students, which leads to lose of concentration in school and other academic activities. As sociologists right affirms, “change is one of the most fundamental phenomenon in the history of man.

    Change is the process by which alteration occurs in the structures and functions of a social system.” Changes and challenges are natural and inevitable to anyone and anything that exists and survives on earth. As such, changes can be made on the negative impacts of social media in the education sector. It all depends on the approaches used in overcoming these challenges. Finding the best and most suitable approach will contribute greatly in this regard.

    Written by Ahmad Muhammad Auwal (300-level Mass Comm., NSUK) 

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    2 Comments

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    1. Ochege Chris 7 years ago

      Bravo 4 the write up bro

    2. Ochege Chris 7 years ago

      Thank bro

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