“I’m an addict, I just get lost in facebook” replies a young mother when asked why she does not see herself able to help her daughter with her home work. Instead, she spends time chatting and browsing the social networking sites with rising numbers of facebook, Twitter and Instagram users.
Africa is increasingly gaining prominence in the sphere of social networking. Qualitative analyses of relevant secondary data show that children and youths aged between 13 and 30 constitute Africa’s heaviest users of social media.
On internet, people engage in a variety of activities some of which may be potentially addictive. Rather than becoming addicted to the medium perse, some users may develop an addiction to specific activities they carry out online.
Addiction is a disease. The annoying and undying love youths have for social media is unprecedented. Most students have probably and almost forgotten the real spelling of some simple words and cannot improve on the ones they knew. Most ladies feel more pressured to get known and popular online and are easily pressured or bullied to be sexually promiscuous while online in order to get attention from boys likes, comments and shares.
Online chats encourage sexual bullying. Interactions almost end up being sexualized, so it’s posting and self representation too, especially on instagram. Social media are killing the child in our children.
As you walk along major roads and streets, you will see them holding tight to their mobile phones and in public transport buses their phones become their ultimate companions.
Specifically, we can argue that there are five different types of internet addiction, namely computer addiction (i.e. computer game addiction), cyber sexual addiction (i.e. online pornography), information download (i.e. web surfing addiction), online gambling and internet shopping addiction, and cyber-relationship addiction (i.e. an addiction to online relationships).
Now, social networking sites appear to fall on the last category. It may be plausible to speak on facebook, instagram, twitter, and Google because addiction criteria, such as neglect of personal life, mental preoccupation, escapism, mood modifying,, experiences, tolerance, and concealing the addictive behaviour, appear to be present in some people who use social networking sites excessively.
In terms of history, the first social networking site (six pegreas) was launched in 1997. In 2004, the most successful current networking site facebook, was established as a chased virtual community for Harvard students. The site expanded very quickly and now facebook currently have over 500 million users, of whom over 60 percent log on to it every day.
No doubt, the phenomenon of the social media has in no small measure, impacted positively on the development of the Nigerian youth and indeed, Nigerians at large. Youths have become better informed and educated by constantly abreast of global news.
It has also provided a platform for unemployed youths to either be gainfully employed or become aware of job opportunities across the world. Aside this, it has provided unlimited platform for genuine business transactions and has delivered people from abject poverty.
The positive sides are many but the negative sides, arguably are much more. The negative effects seem to take much heavier toll on the youths. From cyber bullying, which is alarming for the cultured teens to youths, people are constantly duped, kidnapped, raped, and even killed most especially by strangers who claim to be friends from these faked online personality.
From all said, everything in life has it positive and negative sides. We must try and maintain order by balancing in order to be on the good side. The social media has provided unlimited possibilities for Nigeria youths, however, in view of its shortcomings, it’s obvious, youths are to be carefully and continually enlightened on the good, the bad and the ugly sides of social media.
Parents, Guardians, NGO
Government play major roles in the enlightenment and teaching of the balancing methods of the social media usage in order to properly harness the positive sides only for personal development. This would go a long way in reconstructing the child in our Nigerian children and youths at large.