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Social media as a distraction for African students social media has formed a massive part of our lives whether we embrace the concept or discard it. Social media is all around us; on all continents and in most countries. It can be likened to death, regarding its inevitable nature. Social media can be defined as the relationship that exists between networks of people. (Walter & Riviera, 2004). We as individuals cannot imagine a world without social media, not to talk about the internet. The income or the earnings of some individuals actually come from social media as a result of the advertisement. One can confidently say that social media has been of immense benefit to the general public. It has helped to reduce communication barriers, it has helped us relate better with our friends and relatives, and it has created avenues for business opportunities, but like every natural phenomenon, it has a flip side as well. Social media has been and is still a major distraction for students in Africa and as young adults or students, we are mostly caught up in this web on countless occasions. This paper will talk about how social media has been and is still a distraction for students.
Like stated earlier on, social media has been lauded for its benefits to the world. It has helped in terms of socialization, in that, it helps us rewire our relationship with our long-lost friends, it helps people to advertise their products which actually turns their business into a very lucrative one, it also creates avenues for business opportunities and so forth. We could sit and devote our time to describing how social media has been a blessing to this generation but as the saying goes every yin has its yang. Social media like every natural thing has its cons as well. It has become a major distraction for students in almost every country in Africa. According to a report by common sense media, 75% of African teenagers presently have profiles on social networking sites, of which 68% of them use Facebook as their main social networking tool. According to Sephora, a digital marketing website, studies have shown that 50% of 18-24-year-olds go on Facebook when they wake up (Noyes, 2002). Most students in this modern era, cannot go a day without visiting social media websites, not to even talk about their phones. One major effect of social media on students is that there is no privacy in their lives. The figure below shows the kind of information people put on social media.
Students of today find nothing wrong in sharing their personal information on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook because they see it to be the “new thing” trending or they try to stick to the status quo. Some students deliberately turn a blind eye to the consequences or the effects of putting such information out there, thinking that there are no harmful people in the world or thinking that it’s the status quo. All these information put out there can actually bring harm to the students because there are people out there who have bad intentions or who have the mindset of getting the information of people and blackmailing them. According to daily graphic, a 21 year old girl who always used to put her photos or what is going on in her life on social media was one time blackmailed by one criminal because she put an explicit picture of herself there thinking no one would see and was asked to pay a ransom of GHS100, 000 for the picture not to be leaked. She then had to appeal for funds just to be able to redeem herself. It sometimes would not be this easy to come out of blackmailing, so it’s better to avoid all these problems, as the saying goes “prevention is indeed better than cure”.
In the same vein, social media is seen as the cause for the low grades some students get during the exams they take or the assignments they get from school. Most students when in class do not pay attention but rather use their phones with the excuse of “checking what new song Justin Bieber has released” or “what dress Serena Williams wore to her recent wedding”. Although it’s good to be up-to-date on the things happening around us, there is time for everything. Time magazine US edition, an article called Wired for distraction, conducted a research and realized that students who are seriously involved in social media have what we call “continuous partial attention”, which was said by Linda Stone, a Microsoft executive. This means, their attention to focus on one thing or person at a time is nearly impossible. Most students find it very difficult to pay attention in class because they are distracted by the least thing or noise they hear. The constant distraction of social media tends to affect how the students learn and absorb information. Students who try to multitask by using their phones to text and surf social networks while listening to the lecturer teach end up not using their brains to its full potential or capacity. According to the University of California, Los Angeles, there are two kinds of learning segments in the brain. The “focused learner” is one that pays attention and is not distracted by their phones, friends or their laptops. These people use the “hippocampus” region of the brain, the part of the brain used in long-term memory. And we have the multitaskers; these people try and perform one or more tasks at the same time. They use the part of the brain called the striatum; this part, on the other hand, is normally for those who try and study patterns or habits. Students of today are easily distracted and must learn to pay full attention in class in order to turn their dreams into reality.
Social media takes a lot of time from students. Students normally have the intention of checking Facebook or Instagram for a specific amount of time. They plan on spending 5 minutes on social media but before they can say jack, they spend over 3 hours on it. In 2010, the Kaiser family foundation came out with a report that children between the ages of eight (8) to eighteen (18) use over 7 or more hours on social media sites. One research study done by Phil Smith was that once an hour, 9 out of 10 students are distracted by Facebook or Twitter. (Smith, 2011).
Noyes, D. (n.d.). Digital Marketing Consultants – top 20 valuable facebook statistics 2017.http://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/Sterling, G. (2014, July 22). Pew: 94% Of Teenagers Use Facebook, Have 425 Facebook Friends, But Twitter & Instagram Adoption Way Up. http://marketingland.com/pew-the-average-teenager-has-425-4-facebook-friends-44847
Conley, D. (2011, 19 May). Wired for Distraction: Kids and Social Media. Time Magazine U.S. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article