THE INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA (2GO AND WHATSAPP) USAGE ON THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF SELECTED UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS OF AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY, ZARIA
The social media platforms provide students with the opportunity to share educational materials interact and participate in group discussion that invariably improves their learning and ability to discourse academic issues. Alongside these opportunities comes the challenges of over-dependence and misuse of the social media for other things other than educational activities. The study investigated the Influence of Social Media (2go And WhatsApp) usage on the Academic performance of some Undergraduate Students of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. The objectives of this study are; to assess the roles and benefits of social media to students’ development, to determine how the growing use of the social media affects students‟ academic development, to examine the implications of dependency on social media usage on students‟ development and their academic capacities and to suggest strategies to ensure that social media fully aids students‟ academic development. The Theoretical Framework of the study was based on the Uses and Gratification Theory propounded by Jay Blumler and Elihu Katz where they theorized media technology consumption by how it is consumed and what benefits it creates for the consumer or user of such media or technology. The research deployed quantitative and qualitative survey. 1,200 students from the Faculty of Administration and Social Science of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria who were administered copies of questionnaire and two groups of six (6) students each for the Focus Group Discussion-FGD. From the data and information gathered and analysed from these two instruments, the study found that significant level of students agreed that the use of both social media platforms that is 2go and WhatsApp affects student‟s Academic capacity development in a host of different ways like instant chat, file sharing, video and picture sharing as well as its capability to enable teachers and students interact using the group chat features. More so, study found that there exist a relationship between social media and students‟ academic development and that over dependence on the social media does have a significant negative effect on the socio-cognitive and Academic capacity of the students‟ no matter their level of participation as well as how gratified they are when they used these platforms. The study recommended that over dependence on the social media for activities other than that which could influence their academic capacity development would be detrimental to their overall development. As such, students should be orientated on the dangers associated with the abuse and misuse of the social media to their development. The study concludes that the social media is a very special platform that could influence students‟ Academic capacity as well as their socio-cognitive development considerably.
1.0 Background to the Study
Over the years, the media has been in the forefront in terms of influencing the way people think and behave; through the various ways in which messages are disseminated. As Melkote and Steves (2001) suggest, communication has a way of affecting and changing one‟s attitude in the long run, positively or negatively. This is possibly because of the importance man attaches to communication. Just as man strives for food and shelter, so he does for communication. Thus, communication is the lubricant that makes the machinery of human relation to function smoothly.
It is crucial for man to survive the everyday struggle. From the early age, man has always pushed for a better form of communication at every stage he finds himself. This has brought about the metamorphosis of communication from symbols, cave paintings, sounds, rock carvings, pictograms, festivals, formation of letters, and to the popular media we have today such as Radio, Telephone, Television, Computers and the Internet.
Furthermore, communication and development go hand in hand as the former determines the achievement of the latter depending on the structural frame used (Serveas, 2002). The conventional media gave its audience no chance to determine the form and content of the message. Messages and ideas are preconceived, packaged and transmitted to the mass audience without their contributions and thus the audience become passive. In view of this, the audience (receiver) are bereft of a sense of belonging in whatever message the sender transmits. However, time has revealed that the lives of people do not get any better even with the rise in GNP, neither with the availability of technology or influx of technological ideas and so on. Man is still hungry, un-employed and inequality has grown even stronger. The weakness of the dominant paradigm paved way for the emergence of the alternative paradigm to development which sought for cultural edification, employment opportunities, greater food output, good health, equality and so on (Salawu, 2006).
The alternative development suggests a course of development that is need oriented, endogenously defined, with a primary focus on those who have been deprived and exploited. It recognizes the importance of equality, freedom of expression, and creativity. Here, each society is left free to operate according to its values and cultures and articulate its own vision of the future. Hence, the motivational force of development, and then the kind of information that surrounds a people for whom development is targeted is very important. Taking a look at the younger generation and in particular students, who are considered as the “leaders of tomorrow”, there is so much influx of information, more than what they can assimilate at a time! The new media has made this possible even to their bedrooms and even on the streets (Melkote and Servaes, 2001).
The social media revolution has completely transformed the landscape of information and communication locally and internationally. The revolution that is enabled by the breakthrough in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has greatly impacted every aspect of endeavour and development be it social, educational, economic, political, technological as well as the defence capacity and capabilities of nation around the world. The dynamism of the social media especially through its usage of the Internet protocol that is high in terms of interconnectivity and interactivity, has greatly improved information search and file sharing to other online resources and databases with the aid of computers.
The social media now combines dynamism of services like text, audio, graphics as well as visuals through sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Linkedin, 2go and WhatsApp. The act in which young people tethered to their cell phones to text and access social interactive sites while walking on the street, boarding transportation, travelling, at school and in the comfort of their living room are common scenes in Nigeria. Like it or not, we are a digital society and in the age of cellular phones, video games, and computers.
It is important to explore whether the abundance of technology has helped or harmed Students‟ mental development. In the most basic sense, Academic or cognitive development refers to what a student knows and thinks as well as how those mental processes or cognition develop over time. It is also connected primarily with how a student starts to understand his/her environment and gain knowledge. Part of these would be the development of concentration skills, reasoning and so on. As a student grows and constantly interacts with the world, knowledge is invented and re-invented. According to Piaget Jean, a Swiss Psychologist, who pioneered the school of thought that Academic advancement emotionally, socially, and morally controls every other aspect of development. Also students develop different cognitive skills and strategies for understanding the world as they grow up (Wilson, 2007). In essence, the social, moral and emotional manifestation of humans is based on the information people acquire from a young age.
Despite the plethora of digital gadgets, reading continues to be a problem to young people‟s life (Kaiser Family Foundation, 1999). An average student is only more concerned about the social platforms available on any mobile device. Entertainment seems to be what sells now and man on the other hand, is weight down by so many disturbing issues that require a break away from the harsh realities of life.
For example, a student who has been looking forward to owning a personal computer or mobile phone is mainly interested in its social features. Hand over a phone to a child for instance and he goes straight to the games. Invariably, too much time spent on entertainment kills the brain cells (Katas 2004) making students unable to concentrate on their studies.
According to Katas, the brain consist of the pleasure and the pain site (PLS and PAS). These are the sites that regulate the activity of the body. “Anytime an individual engage in a pleasure giving activity such as playing video games chats and so on, the pleasure site in the brain gets really activated “lively and wide awake, while the pain site is deactivated. When it becomes a habit, the brain and the body cells get acclimatised and lively only to such activities. Any other activity that is not pleasurable the body will hotly revolt against. When a Student who is given to amusement and pleasure wants to read to sit down and do some reading, it becomes a very painful and discomforting activity. He sits for 10 minutes, gets up, drinks water, visits the toilet, and looks around and so on; the body will crave for those amusement and pleasurable things he is used to” (Katas, 2004:56).
Katas (2004) opines that 70% of most of the reasons why students cannot sit to read is summarized in this. Based on a Kaiser Family Foundation study conducted in Five-Year intervals with 1998-1999, 2003-2004, 2008-2009, found that with technology allowing nearly 24 hour media access, the amount of time young people spend with entertainment media has risen dramatically, especially among the blacks and Hispanic students. Today, 18 years olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media in a typical day (More than 53 hours a week) about the same amount most adults spend at work per day.
2goand and whatsapp are mobile phone chat forums that have taken an immeasurable time out of the lives of the Nigerian students, most especially the undergraduates in our tertiary institutions. There is hardly any more time to read because they are pre-occupied with this phenomenon. There is hardly a student of this age- group who does not have a phone and belong to this group, especially in the urban. This mobile chat and other media channels could be great factors in the overall poor output of the academic development of the Nigerian Students in general and Ahamdu Bello University, Zaria in particular.
Ahmadu Bello University-ABU, Zaria came into being on October 4th 1962 as the first University in Northern Nigeria by the then northern region government and was taken over as a federal institution in 1975. The university was created to, among other things produced high level manpower, secured the diffusion of knowledge, there is research and community service in northern Nigeria and Nigeria in general to function as a centre of excellence (Ahmadu Bello University, 2016c). The Ahmadu Bello University, whose Law was enacted on 14th October, 1962, has its origins in the defunct Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria, founded in 1955; the Clerical Training Centre, Kongo, founded 1957; the Samaru Agricultural Research Station established in 1924, and the Shika Stock Farm started in 1928. A month before independence in October 1960, the Ashby Commission on Post-School Certificate and Higher Education appointed by the Federal Government in 1959 recommended that a University should be created in Zaria to serve the then Northern Region of Nigeria. The Northern Region Government requested the British Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, to send a delegation from the Inter-University Council to plan a University for Northern Nigeria. The delegation, headed by Sir Alexander Carr-Saunders, arrived in April 1961 and in the same month issued its recommendations on the scope and activities of the University (Ahmadu Bello University, 2016a).
In April 1961, a Law establishing a Provisional Council of the University of Northern Nigeria was passed by the Legislature of Northern Nigeria, and the Provisional Council was established in November 1961 under the Chairmanship of the Hon. Shettima Kashim, CBE, now Sir Kashim Ibrahim KCMG, CBE (a member of the Ashby Commission who later became Governor of Northern Nigeria and Visitor to the University). Sir Norman Stanley Alexander, a New Zealander, and Professor of Physics at the then University College, Ibadan was appointed the First Principal (later Vice-Chancellor) in July 1961, and assumed office in November. The University was named after Sir Ahmadu Bello (1901-1966), Sardauna Sokoto and Premier of Northern Nigeria, who, as the first Chancellor of the University, performed the Opening Ceremony on October 4, 1962 ((Ahmadu Bello University, 2016c).
The University opened with just four Faculties – Agriculture, Engineering, Law and Science – fifteen Departments and 426 students. Under the successive Vice-Chancellorships of Professor Norman Alexander 1961-1966, Professor Ishaya Audu 1966-1975, Professor Iya Abubakar 1975-1978, Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe 1978-1979, Professor Ango Abdullahi 1979-1986, Professor Nayaya Mohammed 1986-1991, Professor Daniel Saror 1991-1995, Major General Mamman Kontagora (rtd) as Sole Administrator 1995-1998, Professor Abdullahi Mahadi 1998-2004, Professor Shehu Usman Abdullahi, 2004-2009 and the current Vice-Chancellor Professor Abdullahi Mustapha from 2010 to 2015 and now Professor Ibrahim Garba from 2015 to date.
Ahmadu Bello University increased its size, scope and depth of its academic work. By a Decree (the Ahmadu Bello University (Transition) Provisions Decree of 1975) the University was taken over by the then Federal Military Government, and now enjoys the status of a Federal University (Ahmadu Bello University, 2016c). Within the over 50 years of existence, the University had to a great extent, met the development needs for which it was founded, especially with regards to the production of high-quality graduates and Community Service in Engineering, Environmental Design, the Medical Sciences, Agriculture, the Humanities, Education and the Natural Sciences. The University’s five hundred thousand alumni are found in all parts of Nigeria, Niger Republic, the Cameroon, South Africa, Europe, Asia and the United States. Its products occupy important positions in the public and the private sectors of the economy, at all levels of government, and in educational Institutions of higher learning in and outside Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
The growing use of social media on our campuses presents us with great opportunity; that which enhances our personal communication and Academic development. Through the social media platforms, students can have the opportunity to share educational materials, interact and participate in group discussion that invariably improves their learning and ability to discuss academic issues. Alongside these opportunities come the challenges of over-dependence and misuse of the social media for other things other than educational activities. The over-dependence and misuse of the social media takes so much of the students‟ time off their academic work and invariably affects their academic development as well as performance. Against this background, this study intends to study how the social media affect students‟ Academic development either positively and negatively.
1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The study examined how social media (“2go” and “WhatsApp”) is being used by students with a view of assessing its effect on the overall academic performance of Students in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. The Objectives are to determine
i. The role of social media in the academic performance of students
ii. The possible benefits of social media to students‟ academic performance.
iii. How the constant use of the social media by Ahmadu Bello University students can affect their Academic performance.
iv. Strategies to be put in place to ensure that the social media fully aids students’ academic performance.
1.4 Research Questions:
Primarily, the following research questions were investigated to find out how social media affects students’ development
1. What are the roles and benefits of social media to students‟ development?
2. How does the growing use of the social media affect students‟ Academic development?
3. What are the implications of dependency on social media usage on students‟ development and their Academic capacities?
4. What are the strategies that could be put in place to ensure that the social media fully aids students’ Academic development?
1.5 Scope of the Study
The researcher does not intend to go beyond the focus of the study which is largely on Social Media. In specific term, the study quantitatively and qualitatively reviewed two of the social networking media namely 2go and Whatsapps and the rate of their usage by students in Faculties of Administration (Congo Campus) and Social Sciences (Samaru Campus) all in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria More so, the study engaged students who are ready mobile phones users or digital natives and scholarly opinions from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in order to fully and empirically ascertain the extent to which social media usage affect their Academic capacities and capabilities. The study understood that students were drawn to these platforms because of their satisfaction with their features and functions thereby lending credence to the Uses and Gratification theory used. Thus, this study limits itself to the survey of academic development of the students as it relates to the two social media chat forums “2go”; and “WhatsApp” and how they affect the overall performance in 2015.
1.6 Significance of the Study
With the plethora of social media or social networking sites in our society, the call has always been for everybody to accept this platform as it offers information, interactivity and interconnectivity in the fastest and best form. Given the fact that the New Media has the capacity to bring about positive outcome such as encourage research process and making learning easier, it is also evident that the New Media sways students away from its positivity. This Study is relevant because it revealed the interaction and interrelationship between Communication technologies and academic development. It shows how communication tools and platforms could be used as part of the learning capacity and capability of students in an academic environment. Results and findings from this result would show empirically the influence of the social media on the academic development or performance of students‟ overtime. This study, apart from adding to researches on this field, also sheds light on this subject matter. Researchers and students will find it handy, especially as it relates to the Academic development of the students, and for those who may wish to further the research from here.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Development: The systematic use of human, scientific and technical knowledge to meet specific objectives or requirements. Development in the context of this study is limited to academic development which could be attained in learning and teaching environment.
Academic: The processes of study carried out in a college, academy, school, or other educational institution, especially one for higher education: pertaining to areas of study that are not primarily vocational or applied, as the humanities or pure mathematics. The institution used in the context of this study is the Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria
Youth: Youth” is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood‟s independence and awareness of our interdependence as members of a community. The United Nations, for statistical purposes, defines “youth”, as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years, without prejudice to other societal categorization.
Social media: Social media is the collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration. It is also Social media are computer-mediated technologies that allow individuals and other organizations to view, create and share information, ideas, career interests, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. The aspect of social media considered in this research was that which concerns academic content sourcing and sharing especially on 2go and WhatsApp.