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The aim of this study is to explore the influence of social networking and Gender on student’s academic performance. One hundred and fifty, participants made up of  eighty-one males (81) and sixity-nine females (69) students were drawn from the total population of 150 in the faculty of Agric and law respectively, Ebonyi State University, their ages ranges from 23 to 33 years with a mean age of 28 years. A 12-item social networking scale on academic performance developed by Likert (1932) and designed to measure the level of influence social networks has on students was used. Cross sectional survey method was used as the design of the study and hierarchical  regression Analysis was used as the statistical analysis of the study. Three alternate hypothesis were formulated and tested. The result showed that influence of social networking was negatively related to student’s academic performance at (r = -. 30, P < .01) while Gender was positively related to student academic performance at            (r = .18, P < .01). Whereas on the part of the hierarchical repression analysis, Gender actually predicted student academic performance. However, social networking failed to predict student academic performance. Therefore the findings of this study agrees with the first hypothesis which states that social networking will not predict students academic performance.



Background to the Study

       Social networking sites are considered to play an active role in younger generation’s daily lives (Lenhart, 2009), as most of the active users are students of tertiary institutions. No wonder, Oblinger & Oblinger (2005) called them “the most wired and connected generation in human history, ‘Digital natives, and ‘the net Generation’. Social network sites have become excellent tools for education and can be used socially and collaboratively between learners and teachers as well as amongst students. For instance, Asabere (2012) noted that current ICT trends are providing accessibility to online service such as social networks and these enable collaboration among students and contribute a lot to social learning activities. Students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria are keying into the limitless opportunities. The rapid growth of this technology has improved and enabled collaborative and learning activities especially because of its high level of interactivity, accessibilities and affordability.

       However, exposure and use of these networks tend to have both positive and negative implications to the student. Oye, Helou & Rahim (2012) buttressed this in their assertion emanating from their finding that “as a result of more time being dedicated to the use of social networking sites for non-academic usage and less time to academic usage by students, it tells considerably, on what becomes their academic output”. In view of this, the use of social networking sites has raised dust among researchers. Some see it as distraction to learning for the students as it involves multitasking, while others attest to the potentials of social networking for learning. There are also those who argue that young adult learners view and use social networking sites as a platform for socializing more than learning.

       The idea of “social networking” has existed for several decades as a way for people to communicate in society and build relationship with others (Coyle & Vaughn, 2008). With the increase of technology used for communicating with others and the popularity of the internet, “Social networking” has become an activity that is done primarily on the internet, with sites like Myspace, Facebook, Bebo, Friendster, & Xanga (Coyle & Vaughn, 2008). Social networking site (SNS) may be defined as: web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system (Boyd & Ellison, 2007).

       Social network site (SNS) has become the most dynamic web 2.0 application which enables students not only to socialize with friends but also interact with lecturers (Hamat, et al, 2012). The growing popularity of the sites is further influenced by the free access for whomever the desire to interact with friends and lecturers with a view to generating collective knowledge. Social network site is a web based service which allows people to sign up in a bounded system, articulating group of people within the same system so as to share personal or academic related information (Boyd & Ellison, 2007) This indicates that SNS entails a place where people connect with each other and share common issues relating to relationship, sports, politics or academics. However, Boyd and Ellison argue that participants from certain social media sites are not primarily there to connect with people they are not familiar with, rather they sign up to connect and catch up loss but found offline friends as well as close ones.  Leng, et al. (2011) claim that SNSs allows users to meet strangers resulting in connections between individuals that would not otherwise not meet. Social network site have attracted considerable attention among scholars and educators due to the growing popularity among students and the potential effect on academic performance. However, the studies appear from two opposing views on the impact of SNSs on users. While proponents argue that it allows users in connecting people of common interest and value, opponents claim that excessive use of these sites affect the social, mental and physical health of the users. Leng et al (2011) asserts that SNSs enable students to connect with friends and share information as well as organize their offline meetings and group work.

Gender Difference and Internet Use 

When reviewing the literature related to gender and adolescents, result are mixed as to which group spends  more time on the internet (Lin & Subrahanyam, 2007) studies have shown that boys have been online more than girls in previous decades because of earlier forms of technology such as video or computer games (Lin & Subrahmanyam, 2007). Girls have reported that they use the internet for things like chatting and downloading music (Giles & price, 2008). Because of this, one may hypothesize that girls will be more likely to be attracted to social networking sites and other online social groups (Giles & Price, 2008). According to most research done on the topic, the amount of teenage girls and boys who are communicating on the these social networks are equally divided (bonds-Raacke & Raacke, 2008).

       Research has shown that though girls and boys are both likely to have a SNS account, the reasons for the accounts may vary based on gender (Bonds-Raacke &Raacke, 2008). For girls social networking sites are primarily place to reinforce pre-existing friendship, for boys, the networking also provide opportunities for flirting and making new friends (Bond-Raacke & Raacke, 2008). Girls are also more likely than boys to post sexually explicit pictures of themselves, and to talk about sexual activity in public forms (Rafferty, 2009). However, boys are more likely to create an account simply because  they are trying to meet a significant other or because they are already in a relationship with someone who has requested them to join (Bouds-Raacke & Raacke 2008).

       Adolescent girls are also more likely than boys to share personal information about their daily lives (Merten & Williams, 2009). Results of a recent study involving facebook, Myspace and xanga showed that though most teenager aged 13-17 used these sites for fun and positive reasons, 55% girls shared personal stories about depression, anxiety and relationship problems (Merten & Williams, 2009). Only 15% boys shared any personal information besides their  hobbies, interests and friendships (Merten & Williams, 2009). This study also showed  that adolescents use SNS when dealing with a death of a peer, and use forums and numbers profiles to help their grieving process (Marten & Williams, 2009).

       In a recent study, it was shown that adolescent boys seem to benefit more from internet use and communication technology then girls do (Peter & Valkenburg 2009). as previously mentioned, the early stages of social networking included web technology such as AIM, which  help many adolescents “Chat” with others on the computer instead of in person (peter & Valkenberg, 2009).  The amount of teenagers, both male and female participating on social networking on SNS is staggering and this may explain why certain problems arise from these SNS that have became a major problem in today’s society.

Pros and Cons of Online Social Network Sites

       One of the advantages of online SNS is that they facilitate communication among people irrespective of their geographical locations. These forms of communication includes instant messaging, posting public messages on the SNS walls as well as commenting on other people’s pictures Nielson (2010). Online SNS Strengthen the development of social and interpersonal relationships amongst adolescents. Online SNS also facilitate the creation and sharing of various forms of contents such as blogs, videos, pictures and as well as audio messages. SNS provide opportunities for formal learning across geographical contexts. According to Jenkins (2007) online SNS facilitate learning and skill development by providing support for peer-to-peer learning, enhancing knowledge and skills as well as respondents used instagram. Furthermore, a recent survey carried out by pew showed that 76% of online united states of America (USA) adult females use facebook while 66% of the online male users were facebook uses, 18% of the female online users and 17% of the male online users used twitter respectively, while 20% of the female used instagram and 17% of the male users deployed instagram Christopher (2013) conversely 24% of males employed linkedin compared to 19% to their female counterparts. This study therefore  revealed   that females use other SNS more than males apart from Linkedin in the USA.

       In the Nigeria context, however a study conducted by Nwabueze (2014) in Enugu State in the Eastern part of Nigeria amongst secondary schools students which comprised of 201 male and 316 females showed  that the male students tend to participate more in social networking activities than their female counterparts similarly a survey conducted by fact bound (2011) on the level of social media consumption and usage among Nigeria adults revealed that a greater percentage of males used SNS for various purposes than their female counter parts.

       The term gender has come to have many overlapping meanings, and its appears, is still evolving. First, it refers to the social differentiation between maleness and femaleness or masculinity and feminity. This differentiation is socially constructed in social rather than on the basis of the biological characteristics of male and females. Gender is also sometimes used to refer to an attribute of all human beings, that is, one is of the male or female gender. In this second sense, it is used interchangeably with sex. Prior studies on social networking have indicated that there is a gender difference in usage and attitudes. One school of thought believes that woman are significantly more likely to use social networking than men. However, others believes that more men use the internet in its nascent years than did women. Alkyildiz & Argan, (2012) found that male students use facebook more frequently than female students with more friends and spend significantly more time on facebook than female student.

       Academic performance is a multidimensional construct consisting of three dimensions. Student’s characteristic, teacher/Lecturer’s competencies and academic environment. The student’s characteristic dimension of the academic performance concerns how students deal with their studies and how they cope with or accomplish different tasks given to them by their teachers help define the extent of performance (Loo & Choy, 2013). The determinants of this dimension are student’s intelligence, personality and the socio-economic status. Within the academic context, for example, student’s ability to study and remember facts and being able to communicate their knowledge verbally or write down on paper enhances academic performance. Teacher’s competencies dimension of academic performance, on the other hand, concerns how well teachers can impart knowledge on students. However, the numbers of non-human elements in the academic environment and their functionality help define the academic performance of students. Within the academic environment, for example, the amount and quality of facilities such as library, laboratory, suitable classrooms, decent hostels and other teaching aids could enhance or suppress student’s performance. Studies portray the role of SNSs on academic  performance in a positive light saying that while students formulate group discussions to exchange ideas and communicate to their teachers and appeal to their friends about assignments on SNSs, teachers share course related materials with their students and create student groups to collaborate on projects cum communicate with their fellow lectures from other universities through SNSs, thus facilitating teaching and learning process and the enhancement of academic performance. Griffith & Liyanage, (2008) found that support from instant messaging, Wilkis, blogs, discussion boards, and other Web 2.0 facilities can complement what is taught in a traditional classroom setting. Also, Boyd & Ellison, (2007) assert that the copy and paste practices on Myspace serves as a form of literacy involving social and technical skills.

       However, an alternative view casts the interaction between SNSs and academic performance in a more negative light. According to this viewpoint, SNSs use has no academic relevance since most of the users, use it for socializing  purposes. Study conducted by Hargittai & Hsieh, (2010) found that neither SNS usage intensity nor social practices performed on these sites is systematically related to students’ academic performance, findings that challenge some previous claims to the contrary. This claim supports the findings of

Akyildiz & Argan, (2012); Hamat, et al, (2002) who concludes that SNSs users spend more than time for socialization rather than learning. This indicates that excessive use of SNSs reduces student’s academic performances since time meant for studies is used on non-academic issues like chatting and making friends. Although research on SNSs academic performance relationship is scanty (Cleng et al 2011), there is evidence that student’s use of SNSs might affect their performance. This indicates that while some students use SNSs for socialing others might use it for learning activities  thus enhancing academic performance. Pasek, et al (2009), citing the findings of Karpinski, (2009) suggest that facebook use might be related to lower academic achievement in college and graduate school. However, another finding by Towner-and Mum’oz, (2011) concludes that facebook and education can indeed be connected. The latter claim parallels our proposition that there exists a relationship between SNSs use and student’s academic performance. Thus, it seems reasonable that SNSs should influence student’s performance.

Statement of the Problem

       Knowing the fact that many studies have been conducted on influence of social networking and gender on academic performance Alamat et al (2012), Leng et al (2011). Only a relatively few had been conducted in Nigeria showing relationship between social networking and gender on academic performance. Thus, this study will attempt answer to the following questions.

Research Questions

i.     Will social networking have influence on academic performance?

ii.   Will gender have influence on academic performance?

iii.  Will gender and social networking have any influence on academic performance?

Objective of Study

The objective of this study will be

v To determine whether social networking affect academic performance positive.

v  To find out the role of gender in influencing academic performances.

v To find out if social networking and gender will affect academic performance.

Operational Definition of Terms

v Social Networking: Social networking have been defined as web based services, that, within abounded system, enable individuals to construct a semi-profile and articulate a list of other users with whom they share connections and views.

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