Social media abuse by Nigerian youths

Social media  abuse by Nigerian youths

By Precious Ekundayo

Social media can be defined as the facilities and tools that reduce the world to  a global village; websites and applications that enable users to create, share contents and participate in social networking. The social media platform provides opportunities for users to create online communities to share ideas, information, personal messages, etc. Some of the social media applications include Facebook, Instagram, Youtube , Myspace, Twitter, Skype, etc.

The internet came into Nigeria in 1996 after the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) agreed to give license  to 38 Internet Service Providers. Many blogs and other social media platforms have been created since then, and the history of these social media shapes the  history as a whole in Nigeria.

Youths are predominantly the users of the internet . They are the people who cannot imagine life without  internet, the group seeking for ways to connect virtually to everyone in the world. With over half of the country’s population under 30 years of age, they are the ones more frequent on the internet. We must harness the creativeness of the youth for the economic growth of Nigeria.

Although the social media has contributed positively to Nigeria, it is also exposing a previously unnoticed aspect of the Nigerian society. The abuse of social media is a worldwide phenomenon and  Nigeria is not an exception. However, the abuse of social media appears to have taken another dimension. According to Ahmed Olayinka Sule, “Nigeria could be developing a Digital Technology Masturbation Syndrome” (DTMS).

Since the advent of the social media in our country; the lost of  sense of dignity is on the increase. The lost of  sense make us  forget the sacredness of human’s  life that we are known for. This is evident in the attitude of our young men and women towards life. One discovers nowadays that, in the face of a disaster in which people are maimed, injured or killed, youth rather than coming to help only care about taking pictures or recording  the disaster and the victims with their phones and upload the images to Youtube, Facebook or other online forums. This is evident in the aftermath of the June 2012 Dana Airline crash in Iju-Ishaga, Lagos  where thousands of young people residing in the area rushed to the scene, instead of rescuing the people in the plane, began using their phones to take images of the  plane crash victims. A similar thing occurred when almost a hundred people were burnt to death after an oil tanker caught fire in River State.

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The social media has equally provided the youth  medium to conduct fraudulent activities. Youth in this category go by the names  Yahoo Boys and 419. They derive pleasure from fleecing people of their earned cash and in most cases ending up killing their victims. In August 2012,  some youth defrauded and killed  Cynthia Udoka Osokogu, the ex-general’s daughter  after contacting her through social media. Social media has equally become an avenue for  some immoral youth to share  their  nude or sexual images.

There are instances where people announced the challenges they are going through. It may be sickness or lose of a loved one or a broken relationship. We see people posting their condolences or consolation messages. The reality of the matter is that they do not feel any  form of remorse. They just do it out of natural conviction and forget about the incident as soon as they move to next post. As for the person suffering, he/she does not feel any better. In fact, a person who is physically visited by few friends and loved ones feel much better than a person who gets a millions messages on social media with no actual visit.

The creators of these networks did not anticipate that their creations would be centers for crime and social decay. Doing away with social media may not be practicable or advantageous to the  society. However, some form of regulation should be put in place to ensure that people responsible for all lewd and violent stuff on the internet are brought to book.

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Unfortunately, we have a growing trend of crimes was committed among youths via social media.

Social media has come into the loves of many and nearly depleted the use of face interaction. Adolescents adopts this form of communicating early and it basically deprives them of their real life social skills; not being able to hold a cohesive conversation unless the respondent is engaging through a monitor. As they grow they are bombarded with images and stereotypes of the perfect persons, not truly being able to enjoy their advantages and qualities. Now it has gotten to the point where some cannot even hold quality relationships with people in real life because all of their friends exist in the small blue rectangle on their facebook page. Even business use this form of media to promote themselves however they can get themselves demoted even quicker.

The world has created a society which interrupt the signals to face to face communication. No matter the situation, social media develops its presence in almost everything we do. Social media will soon encourage face to face interaction to be just a trend in the internet.

The negative effects of social media on youth cannot be overlooked and can be overwhelming. It can have harmful effects on the youths if not controlled. Youth post private information online without realizing the associated risks. It also cause cyber bullying whereby some hacker can hack into their accounts and start bullying and threatening them.

We can’t deny the fact that peer pressure group causes this, long hours on social media platforms, in fact lack of morals is one of it, poor grades from the academic pursuit, exposure to adult information, most of our youths are strongly addicted to social media whereby they can’t do anything on their own except to consult the internet first, they can’t create their own idea and get something meaningful done themselves.

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To ensure the safety of the youth online, it is strongly recommended that we have adequate and effective online child protection laws, parents as a matter of urgency should monitor the activities of their wards on the social media. Government should empower the youths so as to engage them in more meaningful and constructive activities.

A cyber monitoring team should be set by schools to checkmate the effects of illegal activities of the social media. The youths should be educated on the proper use of the internet and social media.

We must guide the youths and limit their exposure to the negatively of social media. We must ensure appropriate laws are in place to protect them against the exposure to social media. We mist channel their activities on the social media to yield positive result.

Ekundayo writes from Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo


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