Background to the Study
The increased use of Social Networking Sites (SNS) has become an international phenomenon in recent years. What started out as a hobby for some computer literate people has become a social norm and way of life for people from all over the world. Nigerian students and young adults have embraced these sites as a way of connecting with their peers, sharing information, reinventing their personalities, and showcasing their social lives.
The idea of social networking has existed for several decades as a way for people to communicate in society and build relationships with others. With the increase in technology used for communicating and the popularity of the Internet, social networking has become an activity that is done primarily on the Internet, through sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Friendster, and Xanga (Coyle & Vaughn, 2008).
In the early 1990s, online communication technologies were introduced to the public in forms such as email and chat rooms. At that time, many people thought that on-line relationships would be superficial or meaningless. Many also predicted that teenagers would use the Internet for purposes of meeting strangers instead of building on established relationships. It was also assumed by some professionals that adolescents would spend too much time on computers, and this would negatively affect their real life friendships and relationships with others (Peter & Valkenburg, 2009).
Social Networking Sites (SNS) have become popular, especially, since the year 2002 and have attracted and fascinated millions of Internet users (Boyd & Ellison, 2007), even though only a few of the Sites have gained worldwide publicity and acceptability. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimated that there are over 200 different sites that are used for social networking. Most people who are members of these sites, such as Facebook (over 400 million users) and MySpace (over 100 million users) participate in them on a daily basis (Duven & Timm, 2008). Each person who becomes a member of a SNS has the opportunity to create his or her own webpage or profile which is supposed to be seen as a reflection of that person’s personality (Tufekci, 2008). By using this personal profile, one can build an entire social network based on one’s personal preferences (Boyd & Ellison, 2007).
Nigerian youths, especially students, have become much more accustomed to social networking lifestyle more than the older generations. This way of living seems to be all they know as they now use the Internet for majority of their daily activities, especially for information gathering. They now seem to rely more on the Internet for information more than on sources such as the television and newspapers. A recent survey (Kist, 2008) showed that approximately ninety percent of teens at school in the United States have access to SNS, and about seventy-five percent of these teens spend a great deal of their study time on social media, chatting with friends, commenting on events, posting new images, and accepting new friends on their phones and personal computers, and this seems to have affected the amount of time they now devote to their studies.
Students’ devotion to studies, according to Astin (2001), refers to the amount of time resource, physical and psychological energy that a student spends on acquiring academic experience. The concept of students’ devotion to studies refers to the time and effort students expend on educational activities that lead to desired school outcomes. Over time, the concept of study devotion has evolved to mean not just the time devoted to purely academic activities, but in a more technical way, to connote the quality of time expended by a student studying materials at a sitting as measured by the number of hours expended per day on academics ( Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005; Kuh, 2009). The general rule of thumb regarding college studying is, and has been for a long time, that for each class, students should spend approximately 2 hours of study time for each hour that they spend in class (Bucks County Community College). For example, if you are carrying 10 credit load of course work a semester, you should allow 20 hours per week for study. This includes time for reading, writing assignments, gathering academic information, academic group discussions and tutorials.
In the context of this work, study devotion is conceptualized as the number of hours spent on reading, writing assignments, gathering academic information, academic group discussions and tutorials per week/day by students of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma. The benchmark time shall be 21 hours per week, which translates to 3 hours per day. This is against the general rule of thumb prescription regarding college studying because of the peculiarities of the University environment in Ekpoma, where majority of the students reside outside the University campus, spend time preparing their meals and spend time searching for portable water. Besides, the time available to the students is further constrained by poor electricity supply and transportation system.
The use of technology such as the internet and its associate resources is one important factor that may influence a student’s devotion to studies, either positively or negatively. Studies regarding social networking behaviour and students devotion to studies (Enriquez, 2010; Uwem, Enobong & Nsikan, 2013) have revealed that majority of undergraduate students use social networking for social connections and entertainment, and seldom use it for educative purposes, which implies that a significant amount of their time is spent on social networking with distant and cyber friends as against the time spent on academic activities.
In Nigeria, social networking has expanded widely since the arrival of Facebook in 2004, MySpace in 2005, and YouTube in 2006. In all these cases, the original idea was to allow people from different locations to instigate debates and share information using different kinds of support, such as pictures, videos, and notes. However, their usage among Nigerian students at tertiary level has become so frequent and time consuming, that students now tend to spend more time surfing Facebook and other social networks at the expense of their studies.
Statement of the Problem
The use of social networking sites among students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria has become a source of concern to many education professionals because of the distraction it creates within the school. Even though some schools have blocked, within the school premises, certain social networking websites and formulated strict rules that forbid the use of hand-held technology during school periods, many adolescents are still able to connect during school hours as they please. This has caused distractions during classroom instruction, which now seems to have negative influence on the learning environment.
It is a common sight in school campuses in Nigeria to see students fondling with their cell phones during lectures, when walking on pathways, and even when eating in restaurants. This is because most of the students have social networking sites running in their cell phones and as such get distracted when messages prop up on their phones with an alert tone which they spend lengths of hours browsing through, replying and pasting posts. Although studies have been undertaken on Facebook usage and academic performance among students overseas (Kuh, 2009; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005; Heiberger & Harper, 2008) yet the influence of social networking on students’ devotion to studies may not have really been explored in Nigeria. Therefore, this study is an attempt to fill this vacuum by investigating the influence of social networking on students’ devotion to studies in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.
This study was guided by the following research questions:
- What are the Social Networking Sites (SNS) mostly used by undergraduate students in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma?
- What amount of time is spent daily on visit to SNS by undergraduate students in Ambrose Alli University?
- What amount of time is devoted daily to studies by undergraduate students in Ambrose Alli University?
- Does social networking influence Ambrose Alli University students’ devotion to studies?
- Do female students in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma differ from their male counterparts in the amount of time spent on social networking?
- Do female students in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma differ from their male counterparts in the amount of time devoted to academic studies?
- Female students in Ambrose Alli University do not significantly differ from the male students in the amount of time spent on social networking.
- Female students in Ambrose Alli University do not significantly differ from the male students in the amount of time devoted to academic studies.
Purpose of the Study
The study examined the influence of social networking on students’ devotion to study in Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma. Specifically, the study:
- Identified the Social Networking Sites (SNS) mostly used by undergraduate students of Ambrose Alli University.
- Investigated the amount of time is spent daily on visit to SNS by undergraduate students in Ambrose Alli University?
- Investigated the amount of time is devoted daily to studies by undergraduate students in Ambrose Alli University?
- Found out whether social networking influences Ambrose Alli University students’ devotion to study
- Investigated whether female students significantly differ from their male counterparts in the amount of time spent on social networking
- Found out whether female students differ from their male counterparts in the amount of time spent on academic studies.
Significance of the Study
This study will be of benefit to school administrators, academic staff and the university authorities, educational research institutes, stakeholders on Information Communication and Technology (ICT) matters in Nigeria, and even Nigerian undergraduates.
Students’ management is one of the major tasks of school administrators. The ability of school administrators to properly manage the behaviour of students will positively enhance the teaching and learning process in schools. The findings of this study will assist school administrators manage the social networking behaviour of students in such a way that it will not interfere with the time students devote to their studies, rather social networking will be made to enhance their learning capabilities.
To academic staff and university authorities, this study will explain some of the reasons for low lecture attendance, poor students’ performance and the diminishing reading culture among students in higher institutions and most particularly, the influence of online communication technologies on students’ devotion to their studies.
To Educational Research Institutes, the findings from this study will contribute to knowledge and provoke further researches on this area that will lead to the production of more empirical data that would be of immense benefit to prospective researchers in the future.
To stakeholders on ICT matters in Nigeria, the findings from this study will unveil to them the attitude of students towards social networking media, and this may provide useful insight into the future of technology integration, acceptance and usage in Nigerian.
In the light of findings from this study, undergraduates students will be exposed to how their frequent visit to social networking sites, reduces the amount of time available for them to engage in other productive activities. Thus, this will help them (students) to moderate their excesses.
Scope of the Study
This study covered the social networking behaviour of Ambrose Alli University students and how the behaviour influenced their devotion to academic studies. The study also covered the SNS mostly used by the students, the time spent on social networking, the time devoted to academic studies in addition to the social networking behaviour of male and female undergraduate degree students of the University. The investigation was restricted to four social networking sites, namely: Facebook, Whatsapp, 2go and Badoo because these sites appear to be the ones mostly visited by young Nigerians within the country.
Operational Definition of Terms
The following terms are operationally defined in the study:
Social Networking Sites (SNS): Social networking sites or media (SNS) may be defined as a Web-based service that allow individuals to construct a public or semi public profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. Some of these sites include Facebook, Whatsapp, 2go, Twitter, MySpace, Baado, Youtube, yahoo messenger, and others.
Study Devotion: Study devotion refers to the amount of time expended on reading, writing assignments, gathering academic information, academic group discussions and tutorials which should take time duration of 3 hours per day or 21 hours per week.
Frequency of Visit: Frequency of visit refers to the number of return rate to a particular site by a particular person per time period. It connotes the number of times a web-based service or site is visited by an individual per hour, per day, per week, etc
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