SOCIAL NETWORK AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN CALABAR MUNICIPALITY
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1.1 Background to the study
Socialization is a lifelong process which continues as people changes jobs or roles and as society itself changes. It is an age long human activity which entails the relationship between human being and another in the environment in which they live (Haralambos, Holborn&Heald, 2008). Social means human society, as interference of people and the groups and word media is the medium of expressions. Social media evolved when people started to communicate. A number of web technologies emerged through the internet revolution and one such technology which makes waves for information sharing and communication are the social media networks (Kumolu&Oke,2012).
Social network sites (SNSs) such as Facebook, Youtube, Skype, Wechatetc, have attracted millions of users. These SNSs have become our daily practices. Social networks have become integral part of our lives. On these sites users waste much of their time uploading or downloading, getting information concerning their career or academic work. Social network sites have become the busiest platform where people always chat with friends, watch online movies, and doing research (Mbachu, 2011). Addiction to the usage of social network has extremely increased in recent times. Some users become addicted to social sites whereby it becomes difficult for them to concentrate in their studies or work without login to one network site. Some people use the information gathered from the SNSs wisely making them very smart while some have become very poor academically as it is easy to get almost any materials for school assignments. The advancement of social media has touched facets of society with its positive and negative influences (Ahmed &Qazi, 2011). Social media has changed and impacted communication, learning, research and education in general. Among the vast variety of online tools which are available for communication, social networking sites (SNS) have become the most modern and attractive tools for connecting people throughout the world (Aghazamani, 2010).
Social networking according to Young (2010) is the process of finding friends and managing friendships through the Internet. Young further explained that people who wish to meet others put up their most compelling and attractive presentations through their profile pages. Although social networking is possible in persons in the workplace, universities and high schools, it is most popular online. Thus there are number of social networking sites that focus on particular interests and others do not. Kuss and Griffiths (2011) described social networking sites as virtual communities where users can create public profiles; interact with real- life friends and meet other people based on shared interests. Arshin (2010) referred to social networking sites as virtual places where people find themselves and share information. These social networking sites have an open membership. As soon as one opens an account and uploads his or her data on the profile page, the person is entitled to create a network of friends (Arshin, 2010). However, some social networking sites are specifically designed for mobile phones, some are accessed via computers and others could be accessed using both mobile phones and computers or other information communication technologies.There are no limitations or restriction as to which social networking sites one should belong; one can be a member of as many as possible. While the social networking sites have the same key aspects, the cultures and responses around them that become apparent are varied. Most sites help strangers connect with others based on shared personal interests, political and economic views, or simply recreational activities. Some sites accommodate distinct viewers, while others attract people based on similarities, such as common languages or shared racial, sexual, religious, or nationality-based identities (Ayansina, 2011).
Nonetheless, social networking sites have only one common goal. It is to encourage new ways to communicate and share information. It also provide great opportunities for members including secondary school students and Librarians who use it to promote the services of the library and also get first class information about their users through interacting with them (Asad, Abdullah-Al-Mamum and Clement, 2012). The students on the other hand benefit from some of the postings in some sites because some postings can be informative and educative and the students after reading such posts can comment on them.As have been mentioned before, some of the postings are informative and educative while some are distracting to students. Some secondary school students have formed the habit of visiting different social networking sites that it has started influencing their overall attitude; academically, physically and socially. Therefore, the main focus of this study is to investigate the influence of social networking on secondary school students (Jacobsen &Forste, 2011).
Ibrahim (2012) pointed out that social networking sites are seen as beneficial socializing tools especially among young people in today’s global village. However, students most times abuse the use of these very socializing tools by neglecting the informative and educating benefits they offer as observed by the same Ibrahim (2012) that the neglect of educational benefits has endangered students to becoming victims of sexual predators, cyber bullying and harassment, posting or downloading of inappropriate pictures and other materials. This could affect them negatively in their reading habits, academics and social life due to the amount of time dedicated to the social world. A student’s primary objective is the academics especially at secondary school level because it is the stage of career building; therefore, the need to take their studies and reading much seriously cannot be overemphasized. Akintunde (2001) observed that the importance of developing a good reading habit by students cannot be overstated. As competence in reading enables learners to be successful and engage with the world beyond the classroom (Mehmood and Taswir, 2013). Mehmood and Taswir stressed further that developing a good reading habit broadens readers’ horizon; it is important for independent studies. It also helps in the development of other language skills, especially speaking and writing. The entire process of education and the development of literacy depend on printed words and reading is the crucial means through which student develops this literacy and the knowledge about his environment (Mehmood and Taswir, 2013).
Nevertheless, students skip the time for studies and engage in long hours of social networking this in turn may be affecting them in various ways. Ibrahim (2012) posited that most students prefer being on the site than reading their books. Students are often being observed during school time in the various hiding places either discussing social networks or browsing with their phones. Malgwi, (2012) postulated that it is so common these days that many young people are addicted to social networking activities, abandoning homework and reading time in preference to chatting with friends, even at lecture times, many students are on phones engaging in one form of chatting or the other which can be quite distracting and loss of concentration most times. Udosen (2009) asserted that the Internet chatting (social networking) are widely utilized by secondary school students both male and female in Nigeria. Some research works found out that gender interests differ in social networking activities.
According to Lenhart& Madden, (2007), girls (female students) are more likely to use social networking sites than male. For girls, social networking sites are places to reinforce pre-existing friendships while for boys who use the sites, the networks provide opportunities for flirting and making new friends. In terms of knowledge gained from social networking sites, Khan (2010) is of the view that quite a number of male students use social networking sites for knowledge more than their female counterparts. He opined that gender or not, students are addicted to social networking. According to Ibrahim (2012), this addiction tends to take their time and keep them from doing other activities such as studying or socializing offline. He buttressed further that most of these students hardly read their books because of technological advancement which is believed to be largely responsible for the poor outings in most examinations taken by these students. He further stressed that they devote much time to activities that add little or nothing to their lives. For example, students employ the use of short hand style of writing in their social network interactions in writing tests which according to reports, attributed to mass failure in English language at most public examinations. Even at leisure time and late at night, the students keep pressing their phones which have adverse effect on their learning process, (Malgwi, 2012). Social networking with its numerous benefits should not be allowed to drift away the minds of students where in lies the development of Nigeria. Reading empowers everyone, it prepares the mind for societal challenges, therefore there is need to ensure it is back in line in order to develop and move the Nation forward.
1.2 Theoretical framework
While appraising the literature, uses and gratifications theory was found to offer a strong theoretical framework for this research.
1.2.1 Uses and gratifications theory
Elihu Katz and Jay Blumler, developed the uses and gratifications theory in 1974 as a reaction to traditional mass communication research emphasizing the sender and the message (Oliver &Nabi, 2012). This theory has evolved since its adaptation 42 years ago to accommodate changing communications and media platforms. The uses and gratifications theory is based on the idea that media audiences are active rather than passive, meaning they do not only receive information, but also unconsciously attempt to make sense of the message in their own context (Peirce, 2007). Instead of focusing on media content, Katz and Blumber sought to shift their attention to the media audience.Media audiences will make choices depending on their needs, satisfactions, and motives. They will choose a certain form of media, whether it is a medium (television or radio, for example) or a specific program (television show, for example) over another form in order to satisfy needs or wants (Peirce, 2007). As a result, audiences of a particular program will most likely have similar needs, interests, and tastes and will seek rewards (satisfaction).Additional research was conducted prior to the emergence of Katz and Blumler’s model. In the 1940’s, researchers studied what people missed the most during newspaper strikes because this was a primary source of news, the benefits people reaped from soap operas, and why children were appealed to comics (Peirce, 2007). Katz and Blumler then developed a more systematic approach in response to how and why people use different forms of media.
However, Uses and Gratifications Theory, holds a contrary view that media fulfills certain needs for people including the need for social relationships or a sense of friendship and emotional attachment that develops between media users and media personalities. Though many arguments can be made about the possible risks of students’ social networking, it is important to point out the benefits of these websites as well. Many schools have started to use these sites to promote education, keep students up to date with assignments, and offer help to those in need (Lin &Subrahmanyan, 2007). In general, the Internet and social networking sites can be a positive influence on students. Social networking sites provide an outlet for teens to express themselves in their own unique ways (Lin &Subrahmanyan,2007). In addition, they serve both as a meeting place for teens to interact with other like-minded people and as showplaces for a teen’s artistic, musical abilities and reading skills (Boyd, 2007). Some social networking sites like MySpur promote healthy competitions and creativity among students. Students are given opportunities to participate in essay and writing competitions of which they are awarded with cash prizes. These sites provide discussion forums on variety of topics for students to participate. This encourages students and helps them in developing good reading habit and exposes them to a variety of informative topics.
Secondary school students use these sites as tools to obtain information and resources for future planning. For example, students applying for college visit profiles of that college’s students to view pictures and read blogs of past students to determine whether the college would be a good fit (Mogu, 2006). They also serve as a source of information to students and it costs less for students to use social networking sites (SNSs) to reach theirschoolmates and friends. Burkhardt, (2009) posited that with so many students using these friend-networking sites and spending a significant amount of their time on them, users are meeting a need by using the site as a source of information. Sadeh (2007, as cited in Ayiah and Kumah, 2011) explained that developments in web technology are creating more friendly social and fun environments for retrieving and sharing information and one of such is social networking sites. It’s also cheaper for them to source for reading materials via these medium especially social sites that are equipped with educational materials. Social networking sites are also used by students to share ideas with their peers, teachers or other professors available on the media. Agwu&Kalu, (2011) affirmed that the use of social networks can enhance learning, for instance, a student who may choose to log onto his or her teacher’s web page for the next day’s homework assignment, rather than looking in their paper assignment notebook. Gonzalez (2011) pointed out that social networking site is a new method of social interaction in this age of information and to ignore it would only isolate one from social communication and the plenty of useful or enjoyable aspects of social networking. Nwana, (2008) purported that social networks can dissolve classroom walls and provide good learning experiences for students.
1.3 Statement of the problem
The major problem of poor academic performance in English language in secondary schools students in Nigerian secondary schools has led to the poor performance in external examinations like WASSCE AND NECO. These poor performances in both internal and external examinations have significantly affected the education sector negatively. A major contributor to these poor performances could as well be as a result of the advent of the social media as it has unduly influenced Nigerian students at the secondary level.
Social networking brought many positive implications to human life such as making the connection of millions of people from all over the world possible. Perhaps, this ubiquitous presence may appear innocent at the surface. However, there may be some sinister or evil characteristics within this medium that required further study. One of the issues that exist may be the influence of social networking on secondary school students. These increasing links and networks online are setting back the real values of life especially students who accept some adverse impacts from using these sites as they form the major group of social networking sites users. Out of total social networking users 70% are students. These students become distracted because of the amount of time and attention being devoted to these social networking. Often times, they are observed using their mobile phones to communicate and do other social activities even during school hours when they are expected to be engaged in meaningful activities. Therefore, this study is an effort to understand the possible influence this social networking has on the students in relation to their study habits, academics, social life and overall attitude. This is the reason the influence of social networking on students grasp the researcher’s attention more especially for the fact that to the best of the researcher’s knowledge, and this study is an effort to fill the research gap.
1.4 Purpose of the study
The aim of the study is to determine the influence of social networks and academic performance of students in English Language in secondary school in Calabar Municipality Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria.
The specific objectives of the study are to;
- determine the influence of social networking on academic performance of students
- examine the extent to which gender differences influence the use of social networking
- identify the most visited social networking sites by students
- determine the students’ purpose for using various social networking sites
- discover the amount of time students invest into social networking
1.5 Research questions
- What are the influences of social networking on academic performance of student?
- To what extent do gender differences influence the use of social networking?
- Which social networking sites do students visit the most?
- To what extent do students use social networking sites for various purposes?
- What is the amount of time students invest into social networking?
1.6 Statement of hypotheses
There is significant positive relationship between the usage of social networks and the academic performance.
1.7 Significance of the study
The study will be of immense benefits to students, Parents and Guardians and School Teachers. The study will be most beneficial to students who need to learn to manage and balance their time so as to be great contributors to the development of the society. They should learn to explore the social networking potential benefits as it will boost their creativity and technical skills but not at the expense of their primary responsibility which is reading.
It will equally benefit parents and guardians as they need to wake up to their roles of monitoring their children and wards. They should ensure their children pay more attention to their studies.This study will also serve as a guide to school teachers in order to teach the students’ on the need to develop good reading habit and best ways to maximize the benefits of social networking sites. The study also promises to be of immense importance to scholars and researchers who are interested in further research on the subject matter.
1.8 Assumptions of the study
The study assumes that:
- The result of the study will help to enlighten students on the negative effect of social networking on academic performance.
- This study would be a value addition to this research area.
1.9 Scope of the study
The study is restricted to the social network and academic performance of students in English language in secondary schools in Calabar Municipality.
1.10 Limitations of the study
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection.
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.11 Definition of terms
The following are key terms in research work.
Media are all those media technologies that are intended to reach students by mass communication.
Academic-it is related to studies that rely on reading and involve abstract thought rather than being primarily practical or technical .it is concerned with studying from books as opposed by a practical work.
Student is a person who is studying English language in secondary school.
Social media- they are forms of electronic communication which facilitate interactive base on certain interest, websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.
Social networking- is the grouping of individuals into specific groups like students studying English languagein secondary school. It is also seen as communication with students who share same interest using a website or other service on the internet i.e. a social networking site.