Table of Contents
Definition of Social Media
Social Media in Nigeria
What is Development Communication?
Areas of Development Concerns in Developing Nations
Social Media, Development and Development Communication
This study entitled: “Perception of the Use of Social Media for Development Communication by Akwa Ibom State University Students”, was carried out to investigate the use of social media in development communication and how undergraduate students of Akwa Ibom State University perceived the usage. The specific objectives were to: find out if Akwa Ibom State University students are aware of the potential of social media for development communication and effect; ascertain the specific social media that can be used for development communication; determine the kind of development communication message that social media can be used for; and, examine the constraints facing the use of social media for development communication and solutions. The study adopted the survey research design which was employed to derive responses from a sample size of 200 undergraduate students of the Department of Mass Communication Akwa Ibom State University who were selected via random sampling techniques. Data were collected from this population using questionnaire. The study revealed that: Akwa Ibom State University students are aware of the use of social media for development communication to a large extent; over half of the respondents use Facebook to send and receive information more than any other social networks; education messages were mostly communicated through the social media followed by messages on rural development; the use of the social media to communicate development was constrained greatly by lack of access to computers and high cost of subscription for internet access. Drawn from the findings, it was recommended that more enlightenment should be done in terms of using the social media to trigger development consciousness among the citizens.
Information and communication technology in the 21st century has had many breakthroughs; one of which was the discovery and emergence of the new media. The new media have, from the time it was discovered, facilitated the creation of the different platforms for social interaction called social media. The potentials of the new media are pictured perfectly and seemingly limitless in terms of interactions, interrelationships, and information sharing and exchanges; and have served society a lot in terms of interpersonal communication and social relations (Adaja and Ayodele, 2013). As a result of this, the popularity of these social media sites have become much of attraction worldwide, relative to the usability patterns, and researches have unfold current trend of accessibility to these sites (Bellini, 2016; Jaydee, 2016).
Among the ever-increasing users of the new media, studies have revealed that Nigerian Youths, mostly students, have effectively keyed into the capabilities and potentials of social media, especially, Facebook; with majority of them opining that the platform is effective for friendship sociability, with mobile media (feature phone with internet connection and Smartphone) as a medium of constructive sociability behaviour (Adaja and Ayodele, 2013; Osazee-odia, 2017). It is becoming crystal clear as postulated by series of research that the student community is taking the lead in use of the social media and stand as the highest demographic group that use the social media worldwide. in terms social media use and real-life social relationships, the majority of the users of the social media were students (Okafor and Akachukwu, 2014).
In addition to the above, Ellison, Steinfield and Lampe’s study in 2007 noted that from about 800 Michigan State University undergraduate students use social media sites; they found that the students’ sociability in Facebook was driven by the size of their network friends, between 150 and 200 friendships circle. Other studies (including that of Hew and Cheung, 2012) found out that Facebook provides a platform for broadening social networks and entertainment and on which the students’ network size was between 251 and 300 with 17.72% determinant.
These students (as found out by Okafor and Okoye in 2014 using students of Nnamdi University as case study) exploited online communities to improved sociality by enabling old friends and acquaintances interact easily regardless of distance. More so, other students use social media as a tool to receive as well as provide technical instruction/ library/Skype with authors, and “advocacy” as well as recruiting and managing volunteers. Scholars have articulated the common features of emergent social media systems to include: Tagging user generated meta data for organizing and navigating content, RSS and other output for syndicating and re-use of content; high level of interactivity for commenting, rating, voting, tagging and contributing; ease of use, low cost, multi-media content etc (Rogers, 2012; Rees and Hopkins 2009).
In addition to the above uses mentioned but a few, there have been a few imputations to the things the social media can do. Much more than interaction and socialisation, the social media is being exploited as a tool for development communication. It became a widely held belief that the developmental concerns of the world gradually expanded from economic growth and industrialisation to include other social dimensions needed to ensure meaningful developmental results in the long run (Metalopulos, 2008). This summation from Metalopulos agrees with the consensus built in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – now Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that people’s participation is fast becoming a key element in the new approaches to reach sustainable developments. Following the recent concerns of development, it becomes obvious the role that social media can play in enhancing the needed level of participation and interactivity to achieve this development aims.
Thus, the new media, promoted by Internet technology, which exhibits an integration and convergence of the existing media to extend the frontiers of the possibilities of the media of communication, has the potentiality to enhance development communication; having hallmarked the integration and convergence of computer and telecommunication technologies revolutionized the face of human communication especially in the 21st century. It is as a result of the potentiality of the social media to help in development communication that this study sought to assess the use of the social media in development commutation and how it is perceived by students of Akwa Ibom State University.
The broad objective of this study was to determine the perception of social media in development communication among Akwa Ibom State students. The specific objectives were to: find out if Akwa Ibom State University students are aware of the potential of social media for development communication and effect; ascertain the specific social media that can be used for development communication; determine the kind of development communication message that social media can be used for; and, examine the constraints facing the use of social media for development communication and solutions.
It is nothing to argue that the social media can be boon to development in terms of building professional networks and increases knowledge by utilizing information. Amidst this fact, Nigeria tends to lack behind in the appreciation of the social media to communicate development. Despite that various researches have been done on the usage of the social media generally, there happen to be a lacuna in the body of knowledge on the specific usage of the social media in development communication. It is as a result of this that this study sought to answer the questions: to what extent are Akwa Ibom State University students aware of the potential of social media for development communication and effect, which specific social media can be used for development communication and what kind of development communication message can social media be used for?
Definition of Social Media
The term social media refers to the relationships that exist between networks of people or to participate in social networking (Wang; Chen, Wei; and Liang, Yu, 2011; Griessner, 2012). According to Mastrodicasa and Metellus, (2013) it is regarded as websites that allows users to connect to one another based on shared interest, activities or characteristics. Tesorero, (2013) sees social media as a phenomenon that has recently taken over the web, allowing more connectivity and interaction between web users and it encourages contributions and feedback from anyone who is a member of any virtual community. Social media is the use of electronic means to communicate and interact. Social media, as buttressed by Sokoya, Onifade and Alabi (2012), is popular because it allows people to connect in the online world to form a group, a forum and community where ideas and information can be exchanged without geographic barrier.
In terms of its students users, Onuoha, Unegbu and Lasisi (2012) opines that social media according to creates an avenue for undergraduates to network with one another irrespective of time or space. The introduction of Facebook, twitter and other digital media, according to Levine (2012), has opened up a whole new world of social interaction, and potential distraction in the office environment. Kim, Yoo-Lee and Sin (2011) in their study pointed out that as social media are gaining popularity, and some of them seem to be playing an important role as an information sources, it is crucial to understand what kinds of social media are used as information sources.
These authors’ views emphasise the importance of websites as a connective route to social media usage suggesting further that each social media site serves varied function of sociability for users. For examples, Friendster launched in 2002 and dubbed “circle of friends” and promoted the idea that a rich online community can opens up relationships between people that could be associated with common bonds with different ways to discover those bonds; Myspace came-in 2003 with young demographics to build up social connections and of social entertainment drives via music, movies, games and more; LinkedIn launched in 2003 for professionals to showcase their skills and connect to people or groups with similar professional orientation; Facebook launched in 2004, initially a campus-oriented sites for students and in 2006 became a public online community for building social connections and share information with people.
Social Media in Nigeria
According to Madueke, Nwosu, Ogbonnaya and Anumadu (2017) citing www.internetworldstarts.com , Nigeria’s population as at mid 2016 is put at one hundred and eight one million, five hundred and sixty two thousand, and fifty six (181, 562, 056). Out of this figure, Nigeria had in year 2000, just two hundred thousand internet users, and this rose to ninety two million, six hundred and ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and twenty four (92,699,924) users in 2016. This represents 51.1% of the total population of the country, which is more than half of the total population of Nigeria. Nigeria’s internet users represent 28.0% of the total internet users in Africa out of this number, Nigeria has 15,000,000 (fifteen million active facebook users).
According to www.nigeriansabroad.com (2016), facebook (an online social network sites that allows user to post opinion, comment, and share) as at February 2016, 7.2 million users in Nigeria visits facebook each day, out of this 97% access social media through their mobile devices. According to www.nigeriansabroad.com, (an online news publishing blog) as at January 2012, Nigeria had about 1, 646, 212 tweets daily, making it the third largest active twitter user in Africa.