Abstract: The objective of this research was to examine the influence of Twitter on the reading habits of undergraduates. The research is anchored on Technology Determinism Theory and Source Credibility Theory which gave this study a footing. The research used a cross-sectional survey method coupled with questionnaires to elicit responses from the respondents that were drawn using a quota sampling technique. The data collected were analyzed using the frequency and percentage method with SPSS version 23 while the data were presented with aid of tables. Findings show that many of the students use their Twitter platform more for chatting, reading, and following the celebrity and important news. Only a few (11%) admitted that it aids reading. Though, they agreed that their grammar, and spelling are gradually being battered out in terms of quality because the platform can only accommodate 140 characters resulting in some for of words manufacturing. The research recommends that Twitter and other social media users should have a clear purpose for joining any social media particularly Twitter in the first place so that they would not be overcome by any negative impacts but rather use these sites for maximum benefit. The study recommended that social media can be a useful tool for accessing information and promoting reading, but excessive use can lead to a decline in reading habits. Undergraduates should be encouraged to use social media moderately and set aside dedicated time for reading books.
Keywords: READING HABITS
1.1 Background to the Study
Social media has become an integral part of our lives. The rise of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has revolutionized the way we communicate, share information and consume content. However, study explores the influence of Twitter on the reading habits of University of Lagos students. Social media platforms have made it easier for students to access and share information. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 62% of American adults get news on social media, with Facebook being the most popular platform (Shearer & Matsa, 2018). Similarly, in Nigeria, social media has become an important source of news and information for students. Many students rely on social media to stay informed about current events and trends.
Moreover, social media has made it easier for students to access reading materials. Many publishers and authors use social media to promote their books and share reading materials. This has made it easier for students to discover new books and authors. Additionally, social media platforms like Goodreads and Shelfari have made it easier for students to share their reading lists and recommendations with others (Shearer & Matsa, 2018).
Conversely, social media has also had negative effects on the reading habits of students. The constant stream of information on social media can be overwhelming and distracting, making it difficult for students to focus on reading longer texts. Many students now prefer to read short articles or summaries rather than long-form content (National Literacy Trust, 2017).
However, Twitter has become a ubiquitous presence in the lives of millions of people around the world. The micro-blogging platform allows users to share their thoughts and ideas in real-time, with a limit of 280 characters per post. Twitter has become a powerful tool for communication and information-sharing, with the potential to shape the reading habits of students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Twitter has become an important source of news and information for many people, including students in tertiary institutions. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 59% of Twitter users access the platform to get news updates (Perrin, 2017). With the rise of fake news and misinformation, it is crucial for students to have access to reliable and accurate news sources. Twitter provides an easy and convenient way for students to stay informed about current events.
Furthermore, Twitter has also become a platform for authors and publishers to promote their books. Many authors use Twitter to share information about their new releases, book signings, and other events. This has made it easier for students to discover new books and authors. According to a survey conducted by the Codex Group, 45% of book buyers who use social media reported discovering new books on Twitter (Silverman, 2016).
Twitter has also influenced the way students read and consume information. Due to the 280-character limit on Twitter, users are forced to be concise and direct in their communication. This has led to a culture of “skimming” and “scanning” among Twitter users, where they quickly browse through content to find the most important information. This culture of skimming has translated into the way students approach reading in general. Many students now prefer to read short articles or summaries rather than long-form content (Eze, 2017).
However, it is important to note that Twitter’s influence on the reading habits of students is not all positive. The brevity of Twitter posts can lead to oversimplification and the spread of misinformation. Many Twitter users only read headlines or tweets without clicking on the links to the full articles, which can lead to a distorted understanding of the news. Additionally, the constant stream of information on Twitter can be overwhelming and distracting, making it difficult for students to focus on reading longer texts (Adedokun & Okunoye, 2015).
By and large, Twitter has had a significant influence on the reading habits of students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The platform has become an important source of news and information, as well as a way for students to discover new books and authors. However, the culture of skimming and oversimplification that has developed on Twitter can also have negative effects on students’ reading habits. It is important for students to be aware of these potential drawbacks and to develop strategies for consuming information in a thoughtful and critical way.
It is against this background that the research investigates the influence of Twitter on the reading habits of the University of Lagos students with a view to ascertain its implications and effectiveness.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Advancement in information and communication technology in this era has reshaped all human activities on earth to include communication and information. The world has become a global village as postulated by Prof. Marshal McLuhan where the use of computers, smartphones, and the internet has facilitated is indispensable. Social media is among the numerous means by which people interact and communicate online.
Today, millions of people are now on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and others exchanging views, ideas, and other related matters with a good number of them being young. Since social media have emerged as a tool for interaction and communication among youth particularly students in Nigeria, it has continued to influence their ways of life including their academic performance in the area of grammar and spelling in particular.
Technology is constantly blamed as the cause for grammar skill issues in younger generations i.e Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, and other social networking platforms are ‘harming students’ literacy as such platforms bring about spelling and grammar deterioration. For example, some write ‘l8’ rather than ‘late and others rely on device spellcheck to correct their mistakes. To make matters worse, many parents do nothing to try to improve these crucial skills.
Similarly, thousands of students are poor spellers with little understanding of grammar as a result of being too distracted and addicted to sites such as Twitter to bother to read a book. Charlie, (2011)
Also, students nowadays spend the better part of their time in school on information technology devices, particularly smartphones, and computers. On close inquiry, one usually finds out that they are social networking with friends and rarely getting information on their various school courses. Oftentimes, the information sought is subject to the use of technological media especially for pleasure, to while away time, and to interrelate with friends and pals on Twitter, etc. It is against this backdrop that this study investigates the influence of Twitter on the reading habits of the University of Lagos students with a view to ascertain its implications and effectiveness.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The primary objective of this study is to investigate the influence of Twitter on the reading habits of the University of Lagos students. However, the specific objectives are:
- To investigate the extent to which the University of Lagos students use Twitter as a source of information and reading material.
- To examine the relationship between Twitter usage and reading habits among the University of Lagos students, including the types of reading materials accessed and the frequency of reading.
1.4 Research Questions
In order to explicate the aforementioned objectives, the listed questions provide answers to the research problem:
- To what extent do students of the University of Lagos use Twitter as a source of information and reading material?
- What types of reading materials are University of Lagos students accessing on Twitter, and how frequently are they reading them?
1.5 Significance of the Study
A study on the influence of Twitter on the reading habits of the University of Lagos students is significant for several reasons.
- The study could provide insights into the role of social media in shaping the reading habits of tertiary students in Nigeria. With the increasing use of social media among young people, it is important to understand how these platforms are affecting their reading habits, which is an essential aspect of their academic and personal development.
- Equally, the study could inform the development of strategies for promoting a culture of reading among the University of Lagos students and other tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Understanding the factors that influence students’ decisions to use Twitter for reading and information consumption could help educators and policymakers develop targeted interventions that encourage students to engage in more reading and reduce their reliance on social media for information.
- Also, the study could help identify potential negative effects of Twitter and other social media platforms on the reading habits of the University of Lagos students. This information could be used to develop guidelines and recommendations for responsible social media usage and inform the development of policies that protect students from the potential negative effects of social media on their academic and personal development.
Overall, a study on the influence of Twitter on the reading habits of the University of Lagos students is significant because it has the potential to contribute to a better understanding of the impact of social media on education and inform the development of interventions and policies that promote a culture of reading and responsible social media usage among students.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study which investigates the influence of Twitter on the reading habits of the University of Lagos students has been narrowed through the topic itself to the University of Lagos. Hence, the geographical scope of this study is the University of Lagos, Lagos State. The choice of this location is due to its proximity to the researcher, inadequate time, and lack of funds to study lots of tertiary institutions in Lagos State among other logistics. However, the University of Lagos students are used to represent all the tertiary institutions in Lagos State, and by extension in Nigeria. While demographic factors of the students will be examined before the structuring and administration of the research instrument (questionnaire). Such demographical variables include but are not limited to sex, age, academic level, marital status, and many more.
1.7 Operational Definition of the Terms
Influence: In this study, influence refers to both the positive and negative contributions of Twitter.com and other social media on the reading habits of the University of Lagos.
Twitter: This is one of the most visited social media platforms after Facebook.com, and Whatsapp and is being used at the University of Lagos to interact, communicate and discuss.
Reading Habits: It refers to the ability of the University of Lagos undergraduates to read, write and perform excellently in their studies.
University of Lagos: These are the students studying one course or another other at the University of Lagos and are still at 100-500 level depending on their course of study.