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1.1 Background of the study
study unveils the role of social media as an effective tool for educating
voters, it also explores a highly debated issue; the effects of social media in
politics. The arrival of internet and technology has exposed majority of the
global population to different interactive platforms on which different kinds
of information are exchanged which might significantly have effect on human
behavior, decision and judgment (CES, 2012). The appearance of the Internet as
the new mass medium of the 21st century now changes the mass media
substantially. Information can be distributed at high speed, low cost, and
broad scope and as a result, there is egalitarian access to the production and
the consumption of news (Prat and Strömberg, 2011).Today’s social media has
made the world a “global village”, with the quick transfer of information overriding
the challenges of time and distance (Friedman, 2007). Social media’s has
gradually become one of the important means of influencing the society and this
influence is based exclusively on its social aspects of interaction and
participation. As social media gains more popularity and scope, its impact on
voters’ political and cultural perceptions cannot be underestimated as social
media practically influences the way users interact, communicate and make
decisions on social, cultural, and political issues in today’s world.
Voting behavior is a form of political behavior exhibited by electorates which can be influenced by a lot of factors ranging from emotional, ethnicity, religion leading them to make certain decisions. Various factors such as gender, race, culture or religion go a long way in affecting the way a voter behaves and the decision he makes as regards selection of a candidate of his choice. However, key external factors may also influence a voter’s education such as political socialization, socio-cultural views, tolerance of diverse political views and the media, internet inclusive. The effect of these influences on voting education is dependent on attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and the source of available information to the voter.
Social media can play a vital role in communicating with a wide and diverse population and can assist educating voters to better understand the needs of various demographics within an electorate and the ways in which cross sections of society participate in elections and engage with politics in general. Electoral management body have identified youth, minorities and women as members of the electorate who may be less engaged with electoral and political processes but who can be reached through effective use of social media platform. From the replies provided by survey respondents, it is evident that electoral management body believes that an important benefit of social media is the ability to engage with the electorate through shared and open discussions. When there is a need to share information quickly, an electoral management body can directly access an existing audience of followers, who can then share the information within their own respective networks in an ongoing and ever-expanding process. A notable advantage of the social media is direct and instant communication with an audience without the mediation of any other media. As for their usefulness, social media have repeatedly proved to be a source of real-time information and instant feedback. One gets to know things as they happen. The use of social media in election week has been highly successful, but not without its challenges. Becoming adept at using the technology takes time, as does learning how to respond quickly and in an engaging manner. Additionally, as a non-partisan agency, Electoral management body monitors the accounts for postings that could compromise the agency’s real or perceived impartiality.
Social media has reshaped structures and methods of contemporary political communication by influencing the way politicians interact with citizens and each other.
Providing voters with the information necessary to cast their votes using a new system efficiently and with confidence requires a comprehensive approach to voter education and public outreach which social media play major role for daily awareness. Such efforts should therefore start as early as possible and continue until results are certified. A public outreach strategy should include detailed information about how to vote, as well as how the overall system works .The Internet has become the most important communications channel worldwide and is the most valuable voter education tool at your disposal.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
However, most voters can access information, debate on the information and also give feedback on his own views, opinions and expectations from the party and candidate. Although the social media has helped in increasing the popularity of candidates and their parties, it has the capacity to make or mar their chances and voter’s perception of the party or candidates .It is in view of this that the researcher intends to investigate the role of social media as a tool for voters education.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of the study is to determine the extent at which social media influences voters education and behavior. Based on review of related literature which measures political interest, political trust, religion and the use of social media and their effects on and voters education.
Specifically, the study intend to;
i) Find out the impact of social media on voter’s education
ii) To investigate the effect of social media on voters education
iii) Assess the relationship between social media and voters education
iv) Assess the role social media play on voter’s education.
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;
H0: there is no influence of social media on voter’s education
H1: there is influence of social media on voter’s education
H02: there is no significant relationship between social media and voter’s education
H2: there is significant relationship between social media and voters education
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is believed that at the completion of the study, this study will help beam the searchlight on the role of social media on voter’s education, the decisions they make and elections as a whole based on the information available to voters on the internet. It will also enlighten relevant stakeholders such as political parties, candidates, and even the civil society on how social media can bring about awareness and campaign opportunities if properly utilized. The study will also be of great benefit to the researchers who intends to embark on research on similar topics as it will serve as a guide. Finally, the study will be of great importance to academia’s, lecturers, teachers, students and the general public.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study reviews the role of social media as a tool for voter’s education, with special reference to the actual influence it has on vote’s behavior either positive or negative and the factors determining the behavior and attitudes that an ordinary voter adopts based on available information gotten online. In the course of the study, the researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;
Time: the time at the disposal of the researcher which was allocated for the study was a major limitation as the researcher had to combine other academic activities with the study.
Finance: The finance at the disposal of the researcher in the course of the study could not permit wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.
AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher at the time of this study was insufficient, thereby limiting the study.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
SOCIAL MEDIA: Social media are interactive Web 2.0 Internet-based applications. User-generated content, such as text posts or comments, digital photos or videos, and data generated through all online interactions, are the lifeblood of social media
TOOL: A tool is any physical item that can be used to achieve a goal, especially if the item is not consumed in the process.
VOTER: A person who has attained the voting age and has the right to vote for a candidate in an election .
EDUCATIUON: Is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research.
VOTER EDUCATION: Successful voters education ensures that voters are ready, willing, and able to participate fully in the election process. Voters education is essential to ensuring voters are well-informed and can effectively exercise their voting rights and express their political will on Election Day.
E-DEMOCRACY: E-democracy (a combination of the words electronic and democracy), also known as digital democracy or Internet democracy, incorporates 21st-century information and communications technology to promote democracy.
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