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OPINION: TACKLING NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON YOUTHS

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The misuse of the social media nowadays calls for concern. If nothing is done to check it, it will definitely affect the younger generation in the future. Even little children are exposed to the use of smart phones, which gives them easy access to the Internet and the obscenities that abound in it, at a very tender age.

The youths are most likely to be most affected by wrong use of the social media. According to a source, of all cell phone users in the country, those between the ages of 18 and 29 are most likely to have a mobile Internet device. About 99 per cent have any kind of cell phone, while 96 per cent specifically use smart phones.

The social media is a collective term for websites and applications that focus on communication, community-based input, interaction, content sharing and collaboration. Statistics show that around 86 per cent of users between 18 andf29 years use social platforms, while 80 per cent of people aged between 30 and 49 years, as well as 64 per cent of those aged between 50 and 64 years are active on the social media.

The advent of the social media has helped to transform the world into a better place through the channels it has created for learning, recruitment, business, social interaction and information, to mention just a few.  It has also created job opportunities for many people. Yet, has the social media in its entirety been all that helpful to society?

Although the importance of the social media to the society cannot be over-emphasised, yet its negative impact on the society cannot be ignored because it appears to be more pronounced than its positive impact.

As established by a source, 41 per cent of teenagers had a negative experience while using a social networking site, about 22 per cent lost their relationship with other people due to their actions on social media sites and 13 per cent had a problem with their parents because of social media sites.

The social media creates job opportunities for youths through some platforms that specialise in recruitment. Many youths register on these platforms in order to receive job vacancy alerts. Some youths have died as a result of online job vacancies posted by unknown people, who turn out to be criminals using such sites to bait and kidnap victims for rape, money ritual, trading in human body parts and for other unspeakable acts.

The fact that smart phones can be held anywhere has helped some people to learn whatsoever they wish to learn at their convenience. By exposing a lot of young people to illicit sex, pornography, drug addiction and suchlike, they have also rendered them depraved.

The social media serve as a platform for Internet fraudsters to target their victims. Many youths, who are desperate to get rich quickly, use fake pictures and live fake lives online, thereby leading other youths astray. Most disheartening is the fact that the social media has turned to a place where ritual killers get their clients and initiate people into evil associations. Yet, the Internet is also the place where you meet people who have gone mad as a result of their own evil actions. In a nutshell, the social media is leading people astray and at the same time getting them exposed.

Through social media platforms, children are easily exposed to cultism and the activities of secret cults, as well as other stuff they should ordinarily be shielded from.  Also, the progressive decline in the academic performances of most students has been attributed to the emergence of the social media. Instead of focusing on their studies, they seem to be more interested in gaining more likes and having more followers on social media platforms, such as Instagram and Tic Toc. Indeed, the social media has succeeded in rendering many youths lazy as they no longer engage their brains in meaningful thoughts that can benefit the country.

Depression is another negative effect of social media use on Nigerian youths. As posited by a source, in several studies, it was discovered that teenage and young adult users, who spend a lot of time on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms were shown to have between 13 per cent and 66 per cent higher rate of reported depression than those who spend the least time. As discussed by this writer in a piece titled “Suicide and its relative cause in the society,” people no longer spend reasonable time with their families and friends because they devote their time to social media and this in effect leads to a high rate of depression which may eventually lead to suicide.

How do we handle the high rate of broken marriages in the society? The social media has not only found its way into the people’s lives, but also in their minds. People can no longer keep their secrets to themselves as they take whatever happens in their homes straight to the social media. Nothing is private anymore since the emergence of social media and this has led to a lot of broken marriages and relationships.

The major problem, however, lies in what people use the social media for and how they use it. Since the situation of things in the country is no longer helpful to the youths, they no longer have faith in government so they look for ways to improve their lives every day with the use of social media because it is an easier way to reach out to many people. That explains why there is hardly anything that you cannot find on the social media.

The federal and state governments, on the other hand, no longer give priority to education. Instead, they have shifted their attention to other things that are not honourable and this has made the youths to focus more on dishonourable things too. They only attend schools these days to be called educated citizens and only few of them strive for academic excellence.

In tackling the negative effects of social media on teenagers and youths, government and parents have important roles to play. Even though parents cannot monitor how their children and wards use the social media, there is a need to advise and guide them against the consequences, which spending more time than necessary on the social media can have on their academic performance and their mental wellbeing.

The government should also set a standard for academic performances, while also rewarding academic excellence. If the youths are assured of academic rewards, which can improve their lives, they will spend less time on social media and focus more on achieving academic excellence.

•Damilola can be reached via deparuaadot55@gmail.com