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This study investigates the uses and gratifications of social media among mass communication students of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and University of Jos, with the following six objectives To find out social media engagement by students in the two universities, to ascertain the preference of social networking sites among students,to determine the amount of time spent on Social Networking Sites (SNS), to ascertain the gratification derived from use of Social Network sites. To reveal the differences and similarities between students of the two universities in the uses and gratifications obtained from Social Media and to reveal the differences and similarities between the male and female students in the uses and gratifications obtained from Social Media. Survey method was used with questionnaire as the instrument for gather data collection. Drawing it sample size from the Mass Communication Departments of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and University of Jos, the study used purposive sampling method to choose two universities in the study area and stratified sampling method was employed to select 307 respondents from the two universities. The researcher used the rank weighted mean to reveal the similarities and differences in the uses and gratification students in both universities derive from social media interactions. The analysis revealed that for students of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 5 reasons form their major uses of social media, while students of University of Jos had only 3 reasons as their major uses of social media. These uses include “keeping in touch with family and friends, getting news, and reconnecting with old friends and to be informed.” For students of A.B.U Zaria, convenience is a major gratification obtained from the use of social media, but for the students of University of Jos, affiliation is their major gratification obtained. Students of both universities agree to get gratifications in form of information seeking, pass-time, entertainment and relieve of stress. The study also revealed that WhatsApp is the most preferred social media among the respondents. Meanwhile students in both universities did not use social media majorly for academic purposes. The study therefore, recommends among others, that students should investigate how they can incorporate social media to aid their academic pursuit as a way of striking a balance with social aspects of social media usage. Also, institutions of higher learning should find a way of developing social media curriculum as a course that will help students derive more benefits from the usage of social media.
It is not an understatement that social networking has enormously influenced and changed today’s society. Relationships in the society, the workplace, as well as in educational institutions have been re-defined and shaped so much that individuals can even share their everyday life with whomever they wish with the simple click of the computer key. If social networking is used properly, it is greatly productive in helping an individual and business grow and become successful (Kweena, 2011). Social media has revolutionized the way people interact, the way they communicate, and even the way they think (Weisgerber and Butler, 2010). It has become a mainstream activity and a major mode of communication especially for youths who form about 50% of the world population on Facebook (internet world stats, 2015). Social media has moved from being just an interactive platform to a form of mass movement in the media. It has been predicted as a strong force in shaping public opinion especially on issues of politics, socialization, sexuality and professionalism (Idakwo, 2011: 23).
With the advent of the Internet, people are now enjoying the benefits of high technology- driven mass media, which is not only faster than the conventional mass media, but also has a wide range. Mobile phones, computers, and Internet are often referred to as the “new-age media” (Boyd and Ellison, 2007). The Internet has opened up several new opportunities for mass communication which include e-mail, websites, podcasts, e-forums, e-books, blogging, Internet TV, and many others which are becoming the rave of the moment. The Internet has also enabled social networking sites which have redefined mass communication altogether. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have made communication with the masses all the more entertaining, interesting, and easier (Manohar, 2010). The rise of social media sites on the internet has gained popularity over the last decades. The sites have attracted millions of users worldwide (Boyd and Ellison, 2007). Social media is about a configuration of individuals, brought together often by interpersonal means, such as friendship, common interest, or ideas (Coyle and Vanghu, 2008). It builds strong foundations for relationships and creates unity amongst people in every aspect of human endeavours. Advancement in the internet technology with particular reference to the evolution of social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, 2go, Whatsapp and Myspace have aided this social advantage. Social networking sites (SNSs) have entered people’s daily life with amazing rapidity to become an important social platform for computer-mediated communication (Correa et al, 2010).
The social network approach holds that the behaviour of an individual is affected by the kinds of relations or technical ties, more than by the norms and attributes which an individual possesses. The social, informational or material resources that two individuals exchange characterize their ties. Because of the increasing use of social media, individual social interaction with friends, families, and professional contacts have transformed from offline realm into online entity.
Use of technology for social purposes has become the mainstream communication method for many people in recent years (Boyd and Ellison, 2007). Due to the increasing popularity of social media networking, personal-social interactions with friends and families, and professionally-related contacts have transformed itself majorly from the offline situation i.e. face-to-face contacts into an online realm (Gallion, 2010). Nigeria, with the population of 167 million people (2006 Census), 125 million mobile telephone subscribers and 56 million internet users, has been described as the biggest internet and mobile market in Africa (NCC, 2013). This mass appeal of social media on the internet could be a cause for concern, particularly considering the increasing amount of time youths spend on social networking sites. A study conducted by Edward (2009) reveal that an average teenager in Zaria Metropolis spends between 1 and 2 hours online per day, while a study by Onyeka et al. (2013) reveal that youths in Adamawa State spend an average of four hours per day on social networking sites.
Dau (2015)in a study show that an average student in northern Nigeria spends 3-5 hours out of 7 hours per day on social media. With these facts of number of hours spent by youths on social networking sites in Nigeria, it becomes academically and socially imperative to find out what gratification or rather, gains these youths achieve from the number of hours spent online. This is what this study sets out to empirically examine using students of the Department of Mass Communication at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the University of Jos, Plateau State. By this, the study will reveal the differences and similarities of the uses and gratifications derived from social media by students of the two universities,.
The aim of this study is to find out the uses and kinds of gratifications users obtain from the Social Networking Site (SNS). Specifically, the objectives are:
1. To find out social media engagement by students in the two universities.
2. To ascertain the preference of social networking sites among students.
3. To determine the amount of time spent on Social Networking Sites (SNS)
4. To ascertain the gratification derived from use of Social Network sites.
5. To reveal the differences and similarities between students of the two universities in the uses and gratifications obtained from Social Media.
6. To reveal the differences and similarities between the male and female students in the uses and gratifications obtained from Social Media.
The research questions for this study are:
1. What are the uses of social media by students of the two universities?
2. Which social networking site is the predominant preference of the students?
3. What is the duration of time spent on social networking sites by the students daily?
4. What gratification do the students get from engaging in social networking?
5. What are the differences and similarities between students of the two universities in the uses and gratifications obtained from the Social Media?
6. What are the differences and similarities between the male and female students in the uses and gratifications obtained from Social Media?
The significance of this study can be found in the knowledge gaps it fill by first revealing the uses and gratifications derived by the students of the two universities under study. The result of this will be of immense benefits to the students themselves who will be better informed of their activities online and the consequences and implications, which will serve as a check that will help, remove the negatives and strengthen the positives that will emanate from the result of the study. Secondly, the result of this study will help the management of the two universities to have concrete evidence of their student’s online behaviour which will help determine the type of guidance intervention needed to help their students concentrate more on their studies which forms the basic reason of their academic quests. It will also be of help to other students who are not of these two universities.
This study investigates the uses and gratification of undergraduate students of the Departments of Mass Communication in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the University of Jos. The reason for this is because of time constrain and financial implications. 1.7Limitation of the Study
The population for this work consist of mass communication students of the two universities which cannot be generalized for the entire students of the two universities.
The following are key terms used in the research work:
Gratification: in the context of this study gratification is the satisfactions derive from the use of social media.
Social Media: In relation to this study, social media means forms of electronic communication which facilitate interaction based on certain interests. Social media include web and mobile technology.
Social Networking Sites (SNS): The use of internet to send messages and make information about yourself available to other people especially people you share an interest with (social media).
Usage or Engagement: In this study, means the frequency of going in to social media, length of time spent in social media, and the activities the social media is put into.
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