By Dayo Adesulu
STAYING connected to global trends, making friends, and getting news as it brakes are all great aspects of social media, but who really knows the true impact it has on students academically.
Globally, there are 66 social media drawing the attention of all and sundry especially the students. Such social media include Facebook, WhatsApp, Tencent QQ, Wechat, Qzone, Tunmblr, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Baidu Tieba, Skype, Viber, Sina Weibo, Line, Snapchat, YY.com, Vicontakte, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Telegram, Reddit, Taringa, Foursquare, Renren and Tagged.
Others, Tiktok, Discard, Spreely, Quora, Vero, Douban Mixi, Tout, Meetup, Meetme, Flickr, Deviant Art, Buzznet, We Heart it, Gaia Online, Funny or Die, Friendster, LiveJournal, Xanga, Xing, Viadeo, Badoo, Myspace, Stumble Upon, The dots, Kiwibox.com, Skyrock, Delicious, Snapfish, ReverbNation, Flixter, Carez, CafeMom, Ravelry, Nextdoor, Wayn, Cwllufun, YouTube, Vine, Classmate and Myttentage
The above social media platforms have the potential to either affect positively or negatively students’ grades, social-skills, and time-management skills, experts have said. Incidentally, any student with android handsets and data can gain access to any of those social platforms.
Social media addiction problem to academic performance
Speaking in this regard, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Professor, Oluwole Babafemi Familoni said students’ addiction to social media is a problem to academic performance.
The family who spoke at 16th graduation awards ceremony of Greater Scholars International School, Ajah said: ‘’Students’ addicted use of WhatsApp, different kinds of the tweet, different kinds of stories on social media in class is a problem their academic performance.’’
According to him, the social media which has become necessary and important must be used by everyone who is alive, adding that getting addicted to it was what we must ensure our students do not.
He noted that it is a common practice to see students walking along the main road, chatting, watching films and listening to music on phone with earpiece or headphone on, such that they get carried away must be discouraged.
He said: ‘’Addiction to use of social media, taking of selfie have got so many students into troubles and fatal accidents.
Handset, he pointed out should not be a problem, adding that it should be a tool that would enhance our life and learning. He urged secondary school students who are going to the university not to fall into such a problem.
He said that handset is a distraction to students.
His words: ‘’One of the problems of students is a handset. Having a handset ordinarily is to make students work better, to enhance learning but unfortunately, so many students even in the university have converted this to problems.
Making use of handset in class
‘’One of these problems is student making use of handset in class. Many students who use handsets in class always prefer to sit at the back. They come with the best of phones like iPhone xs, Samsung 10 and Tecno Phantom, trying to exhibit it by playing the best game thereby distracting other students. These are the problems that people encounter as they get freedom graduating from secondary school into the university.
‘’It is not only university students that carry phones these days, but secondary school students also have handsets because we are in jet age and anybody who cannot operate and use the phone properly now is not a good student. Parents and teachers must ensure they train and instruct students not to misuse handset.’’
Effects of Social Media on students education
Speaking in the same vein, a Social Media Therapist, Dr Shefali Tsabary
also admitted that children are deeply affected by their addictive relationship with social media.
She said: ‘’Our children today are growing up in an era that you and I may not have grown up in. I know I certainly didn’t grow up addicted to social media.
‘’It is a new phenomenon and we parents don’t know how to deal with it because we see our children being devoured by their addiction to social media and as a therapist, I try to help parents negotiate this relationship in such a way that it doesn’t become a portal for a deeper connection.
Children today are growing up to a diet of social media. So, it is an inextricable part of their lives and of our lives.
In proferring solutions to social media addiction, she pointed out the role of parents and the children.
She said: ‘’The first place to begin is to accept that the social media is here. So, there is no point resisting it because our children will find a way to hide it from us.
There is no point fighting it all the time because then it will be a cause for power battles and for endless conflict. So, the first thing is to accept that it is here.
Enforce limits, boundaries for social media
‘’The second thing to enforce and understand is the limits and boundaries. Limits and boundaries are healthy, they are the way we feel safe. Our children need limits and boundaries.
I often say that though boundaries cannot be created in the spur of the moment, boundaries need to be lived, need to be embodied. What are the boundaries of parents with social media in their own lives?
‘’Parents always can be a bit hypocritical and say, well, I am working on my phone and my kid is simply on Instagram and when I do Instagram, it is for my work and when children do Instagram, it is just for pleasure. Well, that is hypocrisy.
Parents should also reduce their use of social media
As a therapist, ‘’First, I point out the hypocrisy and I ask parents to dare to look at that in the face because if we don’t own up the hypocrisy, our children will never respect us. They will immediately understand that this is a double standard and we don’t want our children to ever feel that we are imposing on them something that we do not wish to improve on ourselves. ‘’Either it is unhealthy or not. Do we need to ask ourselves how present are we being in our children’s lives? When we eat dinner at the table, are we glued to our screen? When we are on a train, are we glued to social media? How is our relationship with social media? It has to come from us. Now, if we have decided that we have created healthy boundaries with our own social media, now we can dare to approach our children to change their habits around social media.
‘’I always tell parents that in order for children to leave their social media, which is so seductive, so addictive, so enticing, so entertaining, then you are going to have to create that in your relationship with them. You are going to have to be exciting and entertaining and meaningful for our children. Otherwise, why would our children leave that to come to us? If they come to us and all we do is pressure them, harangue them, ridicule them, shame them, control them, no wonder they are going to hide on social media. So, this is an invitation for parents to make the relationship with our children more joyful, more connected, so our children are drawn to us rather than hiding from us.
Teach children a positive part of social media
‘’Don’t look at social media as a threat, teach your children that there is a positive aspect to it. It is not just the enemy, there is a vibrant way that we can use social media that is healthy not in the way that is codependent. Many of us including adults, use social media in a codependent way. You know, we post something and we do it because we are enmeshed and addicted to how many likes we get and then we are glued to our screen. So, if you use social media for that purpose, to elevate our sense of self, then we are going to model that for our children and our children will use social media for a sense of worth. But if we show our children that social media can be a valuable avenue and a portal for connection, then we teach them that technology itself is a vibrant fertile foundation for deep worldly global connections. So, we have to be aware of how we are modelling our relationship to social media. Through our modelling, our children will absorb how to use it in a positive way rather than in this codependent addictive way.