POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA
UKPONG EDIKAN NSEOBONG
The effect of Social Networks [media] like facebook, twitter, MySpace, etc is hard to ignore. Nigerian youth alongside their counterpart around the global are fast making the social media become part of their daily activities. That is why it will be of little or no wonder to see number of youths wake up and the first port of call is to update a “good morning” message on facebook or any other social network that appeals to their sense of value. This is a clear picture of the level of participation on the social network.
However, technology like two sides of a coin, bring with it both the negative and positive sides. Against all odds, Branston, G. & Stafford, R. in 2010 explains that any debate arising that the effects of the social network (or media) should be handled from two angle of view and considered from two main attitudes so as to harness the effects objectively. They suggest the following as the two attitudes to consider the effect of the social media from, the pessimistic (negative) attitude and the Optimistic/ Utopian (positive) attitude.
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS (OR MEDIA)
Concurringly, the effect of social network from the pessimistic stand point is increasing dramatically. Society at the invent of the social network is changing from what it used to be, to what nobody can account for other than the negative effect of the social network; these negative effects of the social media has robbed society of its social values and norms. According Sule, A. (2012) before the introduction of the digital social media in Nigeria, so many people had negative thoughts about others: government or individuals and held various negative values and desires. But, they had no platform to share or pour out such into the social context of society. So, they had their negative influence concealed to them; either suppressed or retained in the subconscious. Nevertheless, the emergence of the social networking media has change the order of social value. Sule, A. (2012) believes that the social network has stimulated the release of one’s innermost thought, values, or desire, a concept he terms: “Digital Technology Masturbation Syndrome (DTMS)”.
Furthermore, it is clear that most of our youths, especially undergraduate students have lost their control over social media usage and begun having problems with their functionality in social, vocational and personal circles as the internet has taken over total control of their lives. They have given the social networking media the indescribable power over their sense of decision and focus. This has influenced to a great extent what and who they connect with, what they look at, and the measures of their decision making process. Idakwo (2011) posit that school work and social interaction have been affected at the advent of these social media.
In fact, most undergraduates spend more time on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks through smart phones that are now in abundance among these youths. Some students have become so addicted to the internet that they cannot go for two-three hours without checking and updating their profiles on these social networks even in classes, at the detriment of other activities such as educational and career pursuit (Olowu, A. O. and Seri, F. O. 2012). “Since the advent of social media sites in the 1990s, it is assumed in some quarters that the academic performance of students is facing a lot of neglect and challenges. There is a deviation, distraction and divided attention between social networking activities and their academic work. It is observed that students devote more attention to social media than they do to their studies” Ndaku, A. J. (2013).
Moreover, the abuse of the social media by youths especially student of universities is fast becoming a global issue and is taking another dimension as we match into another decade. The social network has provided money eager youths with the opportunity of becoming fraudsters, carrying out fraudulent activities. This is mostly common on Facebook of recent. Respondent to the research notes the case of a lady on facebook who sends post that she is the daughter of a famous personnel who died leave a wealth of riches and needs help to get the money from the bank and get her out of the refugee camp she claims to be in. To make it real, she goes further to send her picture. At a point, the recipient of the message will be asked to pay some money to a given bank account to verify the transfer. On the other hand, other fraudsters employ different strategies to this same aim. The quest for quick money in coalition with the vast platform of the social network has given rise to “digitalized stealing” (Personal Communication with students).
In addition, the social media (or network) has aided in the increase of immorality in society today. It is becoming more rampant these days to hear university undergraduate gist about sex chat, media sex, sexting, etc. all this terminologies has interchangeable concept that involves the sending of nude picture to the opposite sex on via social media to trigger sexual urge and instigate a chat to satisfy the urge (mostly heard on 2go). The cases of these media sex is becoming alarming as social network user that still have their moralities frown at them (Personal Communication with students). Ikekeonwu, G. A. (n.d) rightly observed that youths that use the internet-based applications see a great deal of impure video material content as well as pictures that is available to them away from the prying eyes of the parent.
In the same train of event, youths are exposed to crime and media violence that directly or indirectly play on society, most undergraduates report. Of recent, they confess, to be receiving some sort of invitation to join cultic societies in the covers of protection against campus violence and intimidation. It is however ridiculous that the media according to them has become a setting for meeting, tool for strategizing, and campaigning to carry out actions of violence and crime if need be. Branston, G. and Stafford, R. (2010) believe that the social media has eroded the sense of integrity in dealing with other in public and private places. They opine that with facebook and other social network, violent verbal abuses, bullying and ignorant comments as used in the social platform have being extended to society in ways that would not be allowed in a proper “public” causal discourses, and of the global surveillance possibilities of interactive media.
The negative effects of the social network on society are quite enormous. As user expose to the unhealthy content of the social media new trend of these influence out grow. This is so because internet users seem to underestimate the effect of media on them. They claim that everything that happens does at their discretion and that they can get over it when they want to; but the case remains certain; they will never want to detach themselves and even when they would want to, their mutuality with friend on the media will in one way or the other attract their attention again (there are exceptions anyway for strong willed fellows). On the contrary, the social media also embrace some sort of positivity that will be discussed in the next sub-session.
POSITIVE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL MEDIA
The social media, other than the negative effects, has a great deal of positive effects too. The positive effects of the social media have reshaped a new world order in terms of academics, politics, arts and charitable actions. According to Jung, B. (2013), it is admitted that the social network has gained popularity rapidly. This popularity have been influenced greatly by millions of users especially be teens, university and college students.
First and foremost, the social media has added “newness in the interaction process”. The social media displays a sort of immediacy in contrast to what was obtainable in the previous eras. These immediacy and other features of the media has influenced theories that has affected both the study and business media, as one would expect from such a deeply embedded and socially ‘shaping’ technology. It has given a confined platform for student that had face-to-face conversation challenges to get over their fears, and develop self confident while interacting.
The social media aided confident has lead to an increase in communication in person. This has in turn become one of the most important tools of maintaining an active social participatory society in context and activity. The social media platform has given the youths, especial undergraduate students (that seem to explore them the more), to interact with youths from other race, background, religion, geography, etc as a result of this, accumulate a wider knowledge spectrum.