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USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA BY UNIUYO STUDENTS
1.1 Background to the Study
The development of Internet and convergence of mass communication channels and technologies have created significant changes in the mass communication industry. Social media are among the prominent products of new media of mass communication (Mohammed and Suleiman, 2013). Exchange of information and participation between individuals and groups are the prominent activities normally achieved through social media.
Social Media technologies are social softwares which mediate human communication. They are best understood as a group of new kinds of online media with characteristics such as – participation, openness, conversation, community and connectedness (Ekeli and Enobakhare, 2013).
The first social network site was Sixdegrees.com, launched in 1997 (Mitu, 2012, p.619 cited in Ekeanyanwu and Kalyango, 2013). It was the first site which combined the feature of having a profile and friends list,… during 1997-2001, another social network sites developed such as Asian Avenue, Blackplanet, MiGente, Livejournal, Cyworld (1999), LunarStorm (2000), all of them followed by Ryze.com (2001)… Myspace (2003) and Facebook (2004) and contemporary social media sites such as Twitter, Whatsapp are still trending.
In the last decade, the social media have been an integral part of peoples’ lives. To some people, it has gradually become a necessity; a platform for social interaction, marketing of products and services, connecting with their immediate environment and virtually the world. In fact it has reduced the world to a global village.
Kaplan and Haenlein (2010, p.61) see social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations…, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content”.
Social media are different from traditional or industrial media in several ways, including formation, quality, reach, frequency, usability, immediacy and permanence. Pavlick and Macintoch, John and Shawn (2015, p.189) explain that the social media operate in a dialogic transmission system, (many sources to many receivers) unlike its counterpart, the traditional media, which operates under a monologic transmission model (one source to many receivers).
Social media also provide an environment where users professionals, marketers, teachers, and virtually anyone who has connection to the Internet can connect with friends, find academic materials, promote brands, as well as improve their companies image by listening and responding to what the public is saying about their product, search for information, educative and entertainment packages, socialise, and follow trends.
Additionally, the social media forum can be used professionally and personally (Domizi, 2013). This is an indication that social media networks are fast becoming a mainstream culture that is being integrated in the daily lives of some people (Boyd and Ellison, 2007).
Anim, et al (2011) has argued that global statistics show that Africa is the fastest growing market for mobile phones and Nigerian has the fastest mobile phone growth rate in the continent. Also, InternetWorldStat put that Nigeria’s literacy rate is well above 60 percent (60.8% – UNESCO, 2012; 61.2% – CIA, 2012 – The World Factbook, 2012). Male adult literacy rate is well above 70% (71.96% – UNESCO, 2012; 72.1% – CIA – The World Factbook, 2012). Youth male literacy rate is 78.15% (UNESCO, 2012). That puts youth total literacy rate at 68.99% (UNESCO, 2012). Therefore, between the adult literacy rate and that of the youths, there is a high percentage of Nigerians literate enough to access and use internet platform and, in particular, the social media.
The application of “social media is relatively new and their cultural impact is evolving” (Dominick, 2011, p. 73). This can be identified from educational, economic and community development in our contemporary society. UNIUYO is not left out of the equation.
University of Uyo (UNIUYO) was established October 1, 1991 by the Federal Government of Nigeria. UNIYO inherited students, staff, academic programmes and the entire facilities of the erstwhile University of Cross River State established by Cross River State in 1983. Academic activities commenced during the 1991/92 Academic Session.
Currently, it operates from two temporary campuses; the Town Campus which accommodates the Central Administration, Faculties of Arts, Education, Social Sciences; Natural and Applied Science, Pharmacy and the Post Graduate and Annex Campus, home for the Faculties of Agriculture, Business Administration, Law, Environmental Studies and General Studies. The Main Campus of the University houses the Faculties of Engineering and Sciences and it is situated along Nwaniba Road, Uyo and is about 4.5km from the city centre covering an area of about 1,443 hectares. Construction of phase one projects had begun at the site at the time of putting up this research work (culled from UNIUYO online Portal).
The students are drilled in their various courses of study, and as such depend on resources such as; books, farmlands, laboratory tools and equipments, electronic gadgets, etc, to facilitate learning activities they engage themselves in.
Students and youths are the core target of social media waves. Their use of the social media sites are proposed or perceived to vary according to their needs at a particular time of use.
A careful observation reveals a good number of UNIUYO students utilise social media on a regular basis. With an Internet enabling phone/gadget and availability of data bundles, the use of the social media can be assured.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Social media sites provide a vast array of uses ranging from user-generated content to keeping up with current trends and happening around our environment. The presence of social media sites in the Internet such as Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Whatsapp, etc., has not only made information accessibility easier; it has provided a source of permanence of information as well as multi-utility.
Along this line, Romm, Romm-Livemore and Setzenkorn (2008) estimated that about 55 percent of all youths including higher institution students who use online services access social network and the other fraction (45%) use such social media sites frequently.
The above study indicates that our populations of the study – UNIUYO students, are part of potential social media users. On this note, it is pertinent to find out the most preferred social media sites of UNIUYO students, their purpose for utilising social media and the satisfaction they get from using social media.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
1. To find out the most preferred social media sites of UNIUYO students.
2. To determine UNIUYO students purpose(s) for the use of social media.
3. To ascertain how often UNIUYO students use these social media.
4. To find out the level of gratification from the use of various social media by UNIUYO students.
1.4 Research Questions
1. What are the most preferred social media sites of UNIUYO students?
2. For what purpose(s) do UNIUYO students these social media?
3. How often do UNIUYO students use social media?
4. What is the level of gratification from the use of various social media by UNIUYO students?
1.5 Significance of the Study
UNIUYO students and other Nigerian students, including non-students alike would benefit from the results of the research which may expose other uses of social media hitherto unknown to them.
Studies and findings involving undergraduate student’s use of social media are not uncommon. Since the new media are dynamic in nature, trends change as days go by. This study adds to existing knowledge.
Furthermore, findings would serve as a references material to researchers in the same or related area.
Also, there are many people who do not have access to social media sites, thus, the findings of this study will attempt to shorten that knowledge gap between those who have access to social media sites and those who do not.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This work focuses on the uses of social media and not the merits or demerits of the social media. Its attention is on UNIUYO students at the degree level with the ages of 18 and above.
This study does not include the influence or effects of the use of social media on UNIUYO students.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
The only limitation the researcher faced was the stress of asking potential respondents first if they were social media users before administering the questionnaire on them