Dr. Asangba Tzüdir
The arrival of the internet in the 1990s brought about major developments in the world of information and communication which was further enhanced through the introduction of social networking sites. These sites revolutionized the world of communication and today two-third of the internet world‘s population visit social networking sites thereby providing social network.
This social network which is a social structure composed of individuals, groups or organizations are connected by various forms of interdependent relationships, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, likes, dislikes, sexual relationships, relationships of beliefs, knowledge, social status etc.
Today, it is a common sight to see a young people chatting in sensitive and devout places like church, and even during class lectures. It is no stranger to see people on streets, who are so carried away that even as they walk along the road, they keep chatting. The production of sophisticated cell phones has also complicated the situation by way of providing easy and better accessibility. Consequently, attention get shifted from visible to virtual friends, while important ventures like study are affected in the process and this has become a worrisome trend, and the lack of regulation of the internet and social media has only led to its excessive use.
Social media has become the new being. The Social information processing theory suggests that virtual relationships developed online takes more time to develop than real relationships, but when developed, it has the same influence as face-to-face communication. Thus it can be inferred that, for students especially, friends from social media will slowly but surely begin to exert influence on each other even as they get detached from their books and studies. Social media is being given somewhat like a real life attribute so much so that, people talk to their phones, computers or television as if they were talking to human beings.
Of late, eyebrows have been raised among academics on social media impacts on studies, and what is being clearly seen is that, students at all levels of learning now give divided attention to studies as a result of social media usage. But resources’ being harnessed from social media for academic opportunities is an open question that needs to be answered. No doubt, students attention will be captured by social media but human tendency especially among the young students is such that it can easily get diverted towards non-educational purposes and inappropriate actions including useless browsing and chatting and unnecessary promotion in social media that ends up in wasting time while eagerly waiting for the cause and effect responses. It will only create an impact on the frequency of exposure to social media, expansion of network and the kind of network being exposed to, and which finally will have a negative bearing on their academic performance.
The Social networking sites are being used today with such passion and zeal pushed by technological innovations that has enslaved and reduced the youths as technological addicts and it has reshaped perception, thinking, lifestyle and attitudes. This will definitely have a negative bearing on their academic performance. Studies have even suggested that usage of social media, from texting to chatting on cell phones to posting status updates on facebook may lower grades. Further there are serious repercussions which will not only destroy the academic life but the life as a whole in case of being made a victim of privacy and cyberbullying.
No doubt, internet and social media has revolutionized the mode of information and communication and opened the spectrum of knowledge and information towards newer vistas, and which has greatly served as a medium to enhance learning but sadly, the non-academic activities have clearly outweighed the academic opportunities. Further, the time constraints leading to burdening academics caused by social media overdose, health concerns etc will have a direct impact on the performance of the student.
On the whole, social media usage has not been operated within limits and it has set a dangerous precedent mainly on students and their academic performance. The worst is that social media is unknowingly made into a being to which humans talk.
(Dr. Asangba Tzudir is a Freelance Research and Editing Consultant.
He contributes a weekly guest editorial to The Morung Express.
Comments can be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org)