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1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Human beings have always lived in communities because they are social animals that believe so much in interpersonal relationship. The internet has enabled such social interactions to go beyond the traditional venue of one‘s community, work and home setting. The internet has in fact, created new societies based upon niche interest, such as auctions, literature and hobbies. Examples of such societies are social networking sites (SNWs) which are internet based upon a traditional social network. The process by which communities come together, attract new members and develop a central research issue overtime in the social sciences, political movements, professional organizations, and religious denominations all provide examples of such Communities. In recent years, Social media is fast becoming a very popular means of both interpersonal and public communication in Nigeria and the world at large. Social media are modern interactive communication channels through which people connect to one another, share ideas, experiences, pictures, messages and information of common interest. They have revolutionized the way people interact, the way they communicate, and even the way they think (Weisgerber& Butler, 2010).
The rise of social software provides new avenues and new opportunities for increased participation and collaboration and an opportunity to change the way people learn. What distinguishes the social media from the conventional means of communication is their interactive
nature which allows the audience to participate in it from any part of the world they reside (Parker & Chao, 2008; Prensky 2011).
McQuail (2010) differentiates the social media from the traditional mass media when he noted that ―traditional mass communication was essentially one-directional, while the new forms of communication are essentially interactive.‖ The social media by their nature have the capabilities of educating, informing, entertaining and „inflaming‟ the audience. Above all, they possess a transmittable and outreaching influence‟ which the conventional media lack.
The expansion in technology has also affected internet software, thus leading to chatting sites known by the name ―social media‖. With social networking sites, one can send and receive messages almost immediately. (www.iiste.orgRetrieved April 13th, 2015)
The manufacturing and distribution of equally sophisticated cellular phones has complicated the situation, as youths no longer need to visit a cybercafé before they send and receive messages. It is a common sight to see a youth chatting in sensitive and highly organized places like church, mosque, lecture venues, some are so carried away that even as they are walking along the high way, they keep chatting.
1.1.1 SOCIAL NETWORKING DEFINED
Social network is a social structure made up of individuals or organizations called ―nodes‖, which are connected by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige (Adeboye, 2012, cited in Asemah and Edegoh, (2012). (http://www.google.com/socialmediaandusuageRetrieved 12th April 2015)
Social network can also be referred to as a map of specified ties, suchas friendship, between the nodes being studied. The nodes, to which an individual is thus connected, are the social contacts of that individual; the network can also be used to measure social capital, the value that an individual gets from the social network. (www.scholarsachieve.jwu.eduRetrieved 14th April 2015)
Anim (2007) aptly pointed out that, it took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million users, 13 years for television to attract the same number and 4 years for the Internet to do so, but
it took Facebook 12-month only to gain 200 million users. (http://iiste.org/journals/index.php/.../1167Accessed 13th April, 2015)
Social networking sites provide various interactive platforms based on the intentions of their founders. There are for instance, social, political, academic, businesses, sports, romantic and religious platform. In other words, the social networking site by their nature have the capabilities of educating, informing, entertaining and inflaming the audience. Onomo (2012) acknowledged this ability of the media by remarking that social networking sites has become ‗‗a widespread tool for communication and exchange of ideas, helping individuals and organizations with just causes to reach a phenomenally vast audience that could hitherto not be reached by traditional media. Thus, since inception, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, 2go, My Space,Skype etc. have captivated millions of users, many of whom have been made to use these sites as parts of their daily activities.
Currently, there is a plethora of social networks with various features meant to suit the different interests of their followers. Some are accessed via computer alone while others can be used with mobile phones. The first identifiable social networking sites was launched in 1997, six degree. It allowed its users to create profiles, list their friends and in 1998, the friends list was
introduced where users had the freedom to search for old and new friends. (Retrieved 12th April 2015 from http:// www.mudconnect) Therefore, just like radio and television, social networking has spread everywhere in Nigeria and are bound to be developing. (http://www.google.com/wikipediaAccessed 13th April, 2015)
The definition advanced by Bryer and Zavatarro (2011) states that ―Social media are technologies that facilitate social interaction, make possible collaboration, and enable deliberation across stakeholders. These technologies include blogs, wikis, media (audio, photo, video, text) sharing tools, networking platforms and virtual worlds.‖ Over the years, social media among students has become more and more popular. It is a way to make connections, not only on campus, but with friends outside of school. Social media in a way helps many people feel as though they belong to a community. With smart phones being able to access the internet and have applications of social media, many are concerned about how smart phones with social media applications will affect students‘ grades.(www.webopedia.com/Did you know/internet/2002/web-vs.-internet-asp Retrieved April 14th 2015).
According to The Television Bureau of Advertising, inc.Social media consists of online technologies, practicing activities or societies that people use to generate content and share thoughts, visions, experiences and viewpoints with each other. The word social networking is known as the agreement of individuals into specific set of potential groups or subdivisions. Social networking allows individuals to express their thoughts to other users. (Thuseethan,&Vasanthapriyan 2014) Social networking is the leader in promoting digital journalism. Social network is used for several purposes like promoting or distributing the news contents throughout the world. (www.wikipediafreeencyclopedia/wiki/socialnetworking Retrieved 13th April 2015)
Currently, there are hundreds of Social networking sites that can draw millions of people, with diverse technological difference. Social network sites are web based services that enable individuals to construct a semi-profile within a stipulated system, articulate a list of other users with whom they share views and go through their list of connections and those made by others within the system, although the nature and nomenclature of these connections has variation (Boyd and Ellison, 2007).
The ability of making it possible to meet new friends is not the major characteristics of social networking sites, but solely because the social network can be made evident due to the possibility that it is node free. The outcome of these relationships of individuals that would ideally not have met each other is made possible. Although it‘s not the real aim, and most times new connections are usually between ―latent ties (Hay, 2006), they already knew each other physically.
Larger perspectives, on social network sites reveals that members are not online with the intention of discovering new acquaintances but to interact with old friends which already exist on their list. Facebook, twitter, 2go, badoo, instagram and other social network sites are, perhaps, the best examples where audiences have become co-authors on interactive websites.
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