1.1 Background to the Study
(Boyd, 2010) says communication is a basic human need and for that reason, man has always found a means of meeting this need. The media, which is an umbrella term for various means of communication, has become an integral part of human life around the world. The earliest forms of personal media, speech and gestures, had the benefit of being easy to use and did not necessarily need complex technology. The weaknesses of not being able to communicate to large audiences led to the development of mass media, such as writing.
With these developments, the role of the media in the society became more and more significant. John Dewey emphasized the role of media for education as James Agee and Walter Lippmann also highlighted the functions of the media for entertainment and information. New Media New technologies can lead to new types of media and the ability to use a given form of media is related to the ability to use its related technology.
Today, technology has made more universal, the ability to produce media. Printing, radio and television are some examples of mass media in that they are intended to reach vast audiences. But these forms of media previously could not be produced readily by the average person. The advent of relatively inexpensive, personal media technologies like blogging, podcasting and Internet video allowed the average literate person to do what was theretofore restricted to media companies. These forms of media are still referred to as new but they have become part of society even as much as the traditional media in some parts of the world. In a few years, the term “new media” might not be very suitable because these forms are becoming part of our daily lives and the fusion with traditional media might dilute the fact that it is new.
Social media is a form of electronic communication which facilitates interaction based on certain interests and characteristics. Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media use web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social dialogues. They support the democratization of knowledge and information and transform people from content consumers to content producers.
Social media are elements of the new media and according to Danny Shea in The Huffington Post accessed 20th June 2010 have become the highest activity on the internet .The rapid growth of social media activities that has been observed over the last two to three years is indicative of its entry into mainstream culture and its integration into the daily lives of many people. In parallel with this, social media have also gained considerable attention from the academic and business worlds.
History of Social Media “Social media isn’t really “new.” While it has only recently become part of mainstream culture and the business world, people have been using digital media for networking, socializing and information gathering – almost exactly like now – for over 30 years:”-Sean Carton in his July 2009 blog posting: Defining social media, in ClickZ. Social media started as a concept many years ago but has evolved into sophisticated technology .The concept of social media can be dated back to the use of the analog telephone for social interaction.
.Facebook started as a local social network made for the students of Harvard. It was developed by a sophomore, Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook was actually made by hacking Harvard’s data base containing identification images of students. The initial idea was actually to compare the faces of students with images of animals, for entertainment purposes. However, due to the potentially damaging contents of the site, the creators decided to put it down before it caught the attention of school authorities. The application was shut down, but the idea of creating an online community of students came to existence. The platform was then improved and sooner than they expected, Facebook was released in campuses other than Harvard. Thereafter, high schools were already starting to get attracted to the idea of having online communities, thus opening the website to the younger population. In 2006, facebook.com ultimately offered the opportunity to the rest of the world. As 2007 approached, the registrants reached an overwhelming digit- roughly a million dozen .Facebook has grown to become the biggest and most popular social networking site today with a population of above 500 million active users. (facebook statistics, 2012)
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It is recorded that at least four million, seven hundred and fourteen Nigerians are on Facebook and other social media with a good number of them being young. (Facebook statistics, 2012) However, there is no comprehensive knowledge of their activities as well as how this form of media can impact on various aspects of life this thesis examines the relationship between social media and its usage by Nigerian youths. The study specifically focuses on the usage habits of young Nigerians and how social media has affected their communication and socialization habits.
The future of communication has been predicted to depend to a great degree on electronic modes. Academics, business men and professionals in various fields propose various uses of social media and new media generally. These and many more decisions will be made based only on available data concerning these media
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The purpose of this report is therefore to provide evidence-based insights into the social media phenomenon which can be used to inform current understanding of usage and behaviour in Nigeria,
- To help identify some of the current and potential future issues around people’s use of social media.
- It seeks to understand how people are using social networking sites as well as their attitudes to this form of communication.
- To understand the use of social media by people in Nigeria especially the youth.
- To understand the attitudes towards social networking sites and the wider issues that may arise from this.
- To explore any effect of this form of media on the social skills of the Nigerian youth
1.4 Significance of the Study
Fundamentally, it is essential we understand current usage and behaviour and identify potential problems so that they can bead dressed. This can be seen in the amount of academic studies on social media within the last seven years.
However, Danah Boyd has gathered a collection of research about social net working sites that lists approximately one hundred and fifty research papers, three books, and seven research reports published in the years 2003-2010. (Boyd, 2010) None of these papers covers Africa. This shows a lack of research that concerns the African region and especially Nigeria where this form of media is greatly used. Therefore the overall motivation for conducting this study is to contribute to research about social media in Nigeria.
This research should also create a platform for further research in this field and how it affects business processes as well other spheres of life. This research should provide useful data for market researchers, marketing and product development professionals as well as educators as to how they can maximize social media for optimum benefit in their various fields.
1.5 Research Questions
- To what extent does youth make use of facebook and other social media?
- How much time do youths spend on Facebook social media?
- What are the reasons youths use Facebook in Nigeria?
- What activities do youths engage in on Facebook?
- To What extent does facebook social media beneficial to people?
- What is the impact of Facebook on the
lives of young people in Nigeria?
1.6 Scope of the Study
This investigation focused specifically on the usage habits of users of facebook.com in Nigeria with a particular reference to the Students of Osun state Polytechnic, Iree since it is impossible to study all students of higher institutions and youth in Nigeria.
1.7 Limitation of Study
Although this study has accomplished the purpose, which is set out to achieve, one of the very limitations is that the validity of the results or findings is depending on the honest of the respondents in providing the needed information.
Due to constraints of time and money, it is difficult to carry out the research extensively. This led to the limiting of the scope.
Cognizance was also taken to the fact that the academic calendar was too short and academic workload was enormous, as a result of this, no time to run around for the work.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Social Media: A group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010).
Social Skills: Any skills facilitating interaction and communication with others. Social rules and relations are created, communicated and changed in verbal and nonverbal ways through a process called socialization.
Cyberspace: This is the electronic medium of computer networks, in which online communication takes place.
Blogs: A blog (a contraction of the term “web log”) is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.