n Mousaion - Social media and reading among secondary school students in Enugu state, Nigeria




The extensive use of social media by young people in many countries has raised concerns among adults, who are apprehensive about their effect on reading habits as well as literacy and communication skills. To what extent, however, does this situation apply to a developing country like Nigeria? This study set out to explore this question by looking at patterns of social media use among secondary school students in Enugu State; the purposes for which young people use social media; their perceived benefits and dangers; students' attitudes toward reading; and the possible impact of social media use on reading. Adopting a descriptive survey design, the study examined the use of social media by students in six secondary schools in Enugu and Nsukka, the two urban centres in the state. Questionnaires and focus group discussions were employed to collect the data. The quantitative data were analysed using mean and percentages, while the focus group discussions were analysed qualitatively. The findings showed that access to and use of social media was limited, more so for junior than for senior secondary students. The young people used the media primarily for social and information-seeking purposes, and less for entertainment. Major benefits of social media use related to developing new skills, gaining access to information, and extending social contacts, while major dangers were perceived to be addiction, cyber bullying, and loss of study time. Students had positive attitudes toward reading, compared to social media; they were concerned that social media use could have negative effects on reading but suggested possible positive outcomes. The researchers recommended that educators and librarians take advantage of Nigerian young people's seriousness of purpose and interest in both the informational and the social use of the media, to utilise the media for broad educational purposes.


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