1.1Background of Study
The world is today celebrating the improvements in communication technology which has
broadened the scope of communication through Information and Communication
Technologies (ICTs). Modern Technology in communication no doubt has turned the entire
world into a “Global village”. But as it is, technology like two sides of a coin, bring with it
both negative and positive sides. It helps people to be better informed, enlightened, and
keeping abreast with world developments (Osharive, 2015). It is no longer news that
technology exposes mankind to a better way of doing things. Social networking sites include:
Twitter, Yahoo Messenger, Facebook Messenger, Blackberry Messenger (BBM), Whatsapp
messenger, 2go messenger, Skype, Google talk, Google Messenger, iPhone and Androids.
These networking sites are used by most people to interact with old and new friends, physical
or internet friends (Asemah & Edegoh, 2012). The world has been changed rapidly by the
evolution of technology; this has resulted into the use of technology as the best medium to
explore the wide area of knowledge.
Social Media has not only changed the way users socialize and communicate, it has also
redefined the idea of friendship, community and learning. The widespread adaptation of
Social Media, particularly amongst students, all over the world has engendered researches on
the impact of Social Media on students’ educational outcome. This research examines the
relationship between gender and social media platform usage among undergraduate students
of University of Lagos, Akoka. The research explores both the negative and positive
dimensions of Social Media within the larger framework of social networking sites and
higher education. The study draws on previous researches done with students, particularly in
developed countries like the United States with the insight of highlighting the implications
for students in Nigeria, where Internet literacy is still low and traditional methods of teaching
and learning remain dominant despite several studies that indicate that Nigeria has one of the
fastest growing Internet users globally.
The last few years have seen dramatic increases in the presence and use of Social Media,
which is defined as a “group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and
technological foundations of Web 2.0, turning communication into interactive dialogue by
allowing the creation and exchange of user-generated content” (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
Social Media has indeed allowed people to express themselves through blogs, websites,
Social Networking Sites (Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram, Flicker, YouTube, 2Go,
Badoo, LinkedIn etc.). According to Burnett and Merchant (2011), the recent and rapid
dissemination of new forms of digital technology has had a noticeable impact on the social
and cultural lives of large sectors of the global population. Along the infusion and availability
of more interactive and user-friendly interfaces and software designs, and the increasing
sophistication of affordable mobile devices, we are witnessing the emergence of ever-newer
forms of popular communication (Burnett & Merchant, 2011).
Furthermore, web-based Social Media makes it possible to connect people who share interest
and activities, across political, economic and geographical borders through instant messaging.
Scholars such as LaRose (2011), Livingstone (2006), Boyd and Ellison (2006) have
investigated how Social Media impact on student education in higher institution. Boyd and
Ellison (2007) in their book, Social Network Sites: Definition, History and Scholarship look
at, among other issues, the implication of social networking sites use in schools. They argue
that social networking sites are not only beneficial to students, but they can also provide new
opportunities for participatory communication among teachers and students. This point seems
to be accurate to the extent that there are various instances where teachers and students in
University of Lagos, communicate on social networking sites like Facebook and Whatsapp
about classroom activities.
McLoughlin and Lee (2007) pointed out that social media platforms facilitate the sharing of
photos and videos with both real world as well as virtual friends while allowing them to build
unique online identities by customizing their personal profiles with a range of multimedia
elements that are open to others’ reading. Because the individuals on social media platforms
come together around to share common goals or needs willingly, especially tendency to
building new communities and groups or participating in them comes up. In these
environments, individuals move from being passive consumers to fully functioning members
by sharing their materials and views with others with whom they reach sensible conclusions.
Hence, this cooperative activity helps members to shape the group identity in addition to their
individual identities (Atwell, 2006