1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Over the past six years there has been an increasing interest in the new generation of web-based technologies, tools and services offered by social media. This Social media is becoming a central topic in our information world. The concept was coined officially by Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty.
It is regarded as a place where everyone can add or edit information or a web where digital tools allow users to create, change and publish dynamic content (Aharony, 2008). According to O’Reilly (2005), Social media can be defined as “the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; social media applications are those that make the most of the built-in advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an ‘architecture of participation,’ and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences”.
Ellison and Boyd (2007) define social network sites as web-based services that allow individuals to construct profiles, display user connections, and search and traverse within that list of connections. Albeit very relevant, social networking is only one layer of social media technology (SMT). Social media technology is complex, much like “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” that is continuously being investigated and briefly understood before it changes once more. As each application is experienced, other innovative technologies rapidly emerge, enabling new utilities for users. Over the last ten years, a proliferation of differentiated services have shown this to be true as micro-blogging sites such as Twitter, location-based services like Foursquare, and consumer review platforms including Yelp have all worked collaboratively to provide a totally new and engaged media experience, which has now become more accessible through mobile devices (Reuben, 2008).
Boyd and Ellison (2007) have used the term social network sites and defined it as web-based services 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. The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site. There are many social media such as MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, 2go, whatsapp, wechat, Blackberry Messenger (BBM) Instagram, Viber etc and in recent years they have become popular particularly with young people such as students of tertiary institutions.
These tools have become part of the students’ lives and help to build their connections with others based on related interests, work, interactions and personal relationships. Consequently, academic institutions have realized the importance of social media and a growing number of academic communities are creating accounts and joining groups through these sites (Al-Daihni, 2010). Experts such as Virkus (2008) believe that these applications support developmental approaches to learning and have a great potential to online learning (Virkus, 2008).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In daily life, mobile phones are used for various matters, including in the field of education. Benefits of mobile phones are not limited to increased access to education but also it facilitates changes in the methods of teaching and learning. The use of mobile phones by students is seen as a continuation of traditional learning methods and also as an alternative to the methods of effective learning. There is a general opinion that the use of social media platforms can facilitate self-learning process in which students will reflex to the diversity in learning styles. It is also argued that the same social media platforms cam enhance socialization, relationships and self-development if used positively. But if used negatively it can affect the performance of the students negatively, this maybe in the form of taking much of the students studies time, destroying students grammar and spellings, leading to lack of concentration during lectures and difficulty in balancing online activities and academic preparation. Social media makes communication easier and faster thereby enhancing effective flow of information and idea sharing among students.
Therefore, it is imperative to understand the social media knowledge and use from empirical viewpoint among mass communication students of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. This thesis seeks to fill the gap.
1.3 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The aim of the study is to ascertain knowledge and use of social media among mass communication students of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. The specific objectives are;
To find out the social media platforms known among mass communication students of Ahmadu Bello University.
To find out the uses of social media platforms by mass communication students of Ahmadu Bello University.
To find out the gratifications mass communication students derive from the social media platforms they use.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Which social media platforms do mass communication students know and use?
What are the uses of the social media platforms by mass communication students?
What are the gratifications do mass communication students derive from using the social media platforms?
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study concerns with knowledge and use of social media platforms among the undergraduate students in department of mass communication, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria during the 2018/1019 academic session only.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study aimed at not only ascertaining the various social media platforms known and used by mass communication students but will answer the set out research questions. It is imperative for this study to analyze reasons for their choice of specific social media platforms and the study will also evaluate the relationship that exist between the knowledge and use of these applications. Hence, this study will build on other existing research works in the same field. The study also serve as a foundation to developing conceptual frameworks that allow better understanding of uses of social media among mass communication students.
1.7 DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS
Use of social media– How mass communication students make importance of social media platforms and the purpose it serves to them.
Knowledge of social media – how journalism students of Ahmadu Bello University get familiarity with the social media platforms they use
Social media applications – These are web based social media platforms used by youth such as WhatsApp, Black Berry Messenger, Skype, Twitter, Instagram, Imo, Facebook, Viber, 2go etc that allow people share ideas and interact with each other among other uses.
Mass Communication students – Are the undergraduate Students of the department of mass communication, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria during the 2018/2019 academic session.