Effect of Social Media on Teenagers and Youths: A Study of Rural Nigerian Teenagers and Youths in Secondary Schools
Blessed F Ngonso*
Department of Mass Communication, Edo University Iyamho, Nigeria
- *Corresponding Author:
- Blessed F Ngonso
Department of Mass Communication
Edo University Iyamho
Received date: Janaury 17, 2019; Accepted date: Janaury 26, 2019; Published date: Janaury 31, 2019
Citation: Ngonso BF. Effect of Social Media on Teenagers and Youths: A Study of Rural Nigerian Teenagers and Youths in Secondary Schools. Global Media Journal 2019, 17:32.
Communication technology; Social networking sites; Social media; Online interactions
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Access to Information and Communication Technology such as the use of social media is the concern of many in the 21st century. The question whether rural Nigerian communities have access to social amenities including media technology prompted this study which adopted survey research method to investigate teenagers and youths in four selected secondary schools in the rural communities in Edo North, Nigeria to ascertain if they use social media. From a population of 1,751, a sample size of 260 students was drawn for the survey research study. It was found that, rural teenagers and youth have access to social media through their personal/parents internet-access mobile phones though not for academic purpose but to enhance their lives which are more or less social. They also prefer Facebook to other social networking sites. They were also exposed to other social media such as Instagram, Whatsapp, Twitter and YouTube, to make their day
The evolution of Information and Communication Technology
(ICT) has thrown young people into the visual space mercilessly.
Today’s teenagers and youths spend hours surfing the net,
engaging themselves in chatting and socializing on different social
networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, LinkedIn,
YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr and Instagram etc. This has
become a prominent part of their lives as they are more concerned
with Facebook friends, videos on YouTube, posts, twits and other
online communication than they are with face-to-face friends.
Singh, et al.  state that ‘’today, youths are defining users of
social media. Social media made available the platform for youth
to build social networks or social relations among people’’.
Teenagers and youths have become addicted to online
interactions; they claimed that social media help them to
stay connected with their friends they do not see often, they
also claim that social media allow them to make new friends
online, find jobs, business opportunities through LinkedIn, self
-fulfillment, importance, expectation, fame, health-related issues
and social wellbeing. Brady, Holcomb and Smith, Lusk cited in
Ali, Igbal and Igbal  state that social media provides efficient
ways for education; students used social media for E-learning,
develop communication skill and raise their learning skills .In
spite of what appears to be the positive aspects of social media, studies have also shown that there are a lot of negative aspects
of social media particularly on teenagers and youths. It has been
discovered that, access to social media by teenagers and youth
create a great distraction, affect learning and comprehension
of teaching in class, and aid in cheating during examinations.
Studies have also shown that teenagers and youths are affected
negatively on social media because of unrestricted information
available on the social media. Ali, et al.  in a review of related
literature cited the works of Berson and Berson which stated that
high exposure to the Internet by youth carries with it a risk. He
also cited Jacobsen and Forste whose research findings show
that two-third population of the students have lower grade in
examination because of the use of social media during class hour.
Other negative impacts of social media on teenagers and youths
include hacking, identity theft, phishing scams, and exposure to
Though the Internet and social media studies are dominating
literature in social psychology as well as communication
psychology much of the literature on this subject matter is
focused on urban youths particularly in the university. Rural
youths have been left out in most of the discourse. In Nigeria, social amenities are sparsely available in the urban areas while
the rural areas are left with nothing. This creates a serious social
divide which is also pronounced with the use of ICT facilities.
Opata  commenting on urban/rural divide in Nigeria said,
‘’a majority of Nigerians live in the rural areas, yet coverage of
telecommunications services and access to telecommunications
services, facilities and applications remains lopsided in favour of
the urban areas and cities when juxtaposed with the rural part
of Nigeria’’. As awareness and uses increased in the urban areas
with attendants effects we are not sure if the rural communities
are experiencing same. This study therefore is set to ascertain the
exposure and its effects on Nigerian teenagers and youths in the
rural secondary schools.
The main objective behind the selection of this topic is to
ascertain the effect of the social media on the Nigerian teenagers
and youths who live and school in the rural communities. The
specific objectives for the realization of the broad objective are
itemized as follows:
1. To find out if Nigerian teenagers and youth who live and
school in the rural communities have access to social
2. To ascertain the means of access to social media,
3. To find out most prefer social media platform,
4. To ascertain the motivating interest to social media
1. Do Nigerian teenagers and youth who live and school in
the rural communities have access to social media?
2. How do Nigerian teenagers and youths in rural secondary
schools access social media?
3. Which social media platform is most prefer amongst
Nigerian teenagers and youths in in rural secondary
4. What motivate their interest to social media exposure
Review of Related Literature
Literature review provides deep insight into related studies
and it helped to select appropriate objectives, hypotheses
and methodology that further enhance the topic under
consideration. ‘’The advent of social media platforms such as
Twitter, Facebook, and Intagram represent a new phase of
revolution and development in the globalized world’’ Adegbilero-
Iwari and Ikenwe, 2014 cited in Zakaria and Birikorang . ‘’Social
media otherwise known as the new media is a form of electronic
communication which facilitate interaction based on certain
interest characteristics on web 2.0 technology’’ Asemah [5,6]
defines social media as a digital interactive media. Sambe (2014)
sees social media as a ‘’new media technology, a product of
information of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
Social media have been tagged a ‘hot topic’, and a ‘new spirit’ and one of the most significant social and technological development
of the 21st Century’’, Levy, 2007 in Anyanwu and Agwu  Social
media are also seen as a form of electronic communication on the
Internet. Social media is also referred to as ‘’social networking
websites developed to specifically help people share their views
and stay in touch with their friends, relatives, well wishes and
other groups in the society’’ . Both the Internet and the social
media have become veritable tools in Nigeria. In almost all sector
of the economy these new technologies are used. But the extent
of their usage in the rural area has been an issue of concern
to communication and ICT scholars alike. Odoh, et al.  note,
‘’despite the effort of the past to locate mass media houses in
rural areas, the trend has been that almost all the media houses
are urban centered. This has far reaching implication to urbanrural
communication relationship. Consequently,…the mobile
communication networks that made their debut… followed the
same pattern.’’ In spite of this challenge, empirical data show
that Nigeria is greatly benefiting from the new technological
revolution of the 21st century. According to Internet World Start
cited in ref.  state:
The growth of the number of Internet users in Nigeria from
2000 to 2010 is quite alarming as it recorded 21,891.1% growth
rate. According to Internet World Start…there were 200,000
internet users in Nigeria in year 2000. This number is however
less than 1% of the national population. In the year 2006 the
number has grown to 5,000,000. This figure doubled in 2008 with
10 million people having access to the Internet. In 2009, the figure
went above double at 23,982,000 people used Internet in Nigeria.
By June 2010, the number of Internet users in Nigeria has grown
to 43,982,200, that is 29.5% of the county’s population.
World Development Indicators (2013) cited Anyanwu and
Agwu  also state that, ‘’social media users in Nigeria are
officially put at 53.5% of the population, in 2012 higher than
the national average for 2008 which was projected in 2016 over
80% of those who live in the urban areas in Nigeria use social
media’’. Both the Internet and social networking sites have
played a crucial role in the day-to-day learning environment.
Odoh, et al. in their study of the use of social media and the
Nigerian academic/learning environment, studied Madonna
University, Okija and National Open University, Enugu Campus,
sampled 420 students within the age bracket of 20-45 years,
found that Nigerian students use more of Facebook and Twitter
social media platforms. Their findings also showed that these
social media tools enable Nigerian undergraduates and teachers
to freely send direct communication to friends and colleagues
around the world not for academic reasons. The findings also
revealed that students have access to social media daily on their
desktop computer, laptop, e-readers, tablets, and cell phones to
actively engage in social networking, text messaging, blogging,
and content sharing. Odoh and Ajah  in their study entitled,
‘’bridging rural-urban information gap for development: the
social media imperative’’ used a survey research method to
study undergraduates and secondary school teachers in Igbo-Etiti
Local Government Area of Enugu State, a rural setting. The age
bracket of the respondent was 17-30 for students and 25-45 for
teachers, the study population stood at 9700 and a sample size
of 400 was drawn using Taro Yamani. The findings showed that the rural Igbo-Etiti have access to telecommunication services
as well as the use of social media. The findings also confirmed
that often times the telecommunication networks are epileptic.
The findings also confirmed that, the rural dwellers in Igbo-Etiti
use social media to support their development and amongst the
preferred are Twitter and Facebook.
Singh, et al.  in their study of positive and negative effects
of social media on Indian youth sampled 126 students of pre and
post-graduate colleges situated in Chandigarch City found that
India youth are not using social media for academic purpose
but rather surfing, chatting and entertainment. Their findings
also showed that over-utilization of the social media by students
reduces production ability due to continuous surfing which also
creates physical as well as mental problems such as mental and
physical fatigue, strain, anxiety and panic. Ahaotu and Amadi
(2014) in their survey of youth exposure to social media found that
94.9% of the youths sampled used social media not only for social
purposes but also for teaching, research and business purposes
amongst others. In their other findings, they also realized that the
most preferred social media amongst youth is Facebook. Ahaotu
and Amadi research findings agreed with Ngonso and Egielewa
(2018) study of students in Edo University Iyamho which findings
showed that Nigerian youth are increasingly using social media
and Facebook is the most preferred. Oka cited in Anyanwu and
Agwu  in his study of South-South Nigerian students discovered
that 80% of the surveyed students use social media.
Uses and Gratification Theory (UGT) is anchored on mainly
on the view that media use served a variety of needs stemming
from the personal social situation of the individual, McQuail
. Nwafor  describes uses and gratification as an idea that
media use depends on the perceived satisfactions, needs, wishes,
or motives of the perspective audience member, which are
derived from psychological instincts (needs) such as information,
relaxation, companionship, diversion and escape. Ndolo  also
states that uses and gratification has ‘’social and psychological
origins of needs which generate expectations of the mass media
or sources which lead to differential patterns of media exposure or
engagement in other activities resulting in needs gratifications’’.
However, the adult needs satisfied by the media according to
Ndolo include surveillance, excitement, guidance, relaxation,
tension reduction, social integration, entertainment, escape, self
and personal identity, social contact, and information acquisition.
The major proponents of this theory are Dennis McQuail, Blumler
Jay, Katz Elihu and Joseph Brown.
This study adopts quantitative survey method. A set of
questionnaire was designed to elicit responses from respondents
(students) in the selected schools who were purposively drawn
from four secondary schools in the rural areas of Edo North, Edo
State, Nigeria. The four schools were also randomly selected from
the pool of 56 government approved schools in the region. The
four selected schools have a total population of 1,751 students
which stood as the actual population of this study. The selected
schools were: Government Secondary School, Iyahmo-550 students; Government Secondary School, Oluoke- 150 students;
Government Secondary School, Iyora-181 students and
Government Secondary School, Afowa-900 students. Progressive
quota sampling method was used to obtain the sample size for the
study; this method allows the researcher to study a reasonable
portion of the population, hence, the researcher studied 15
% of the population, giving a sample size of 260. This implies
that 260 respondents were drawn from the four Government
Secondary Schools randomly selected. The questionnaire copies
were administered to the students who filled and returned to
the researcher independently. Thereafter, the analysis was done
using SPSS version 20. The data generated were analyzed in line
with the four research questions that were earlier stated to guide
the execution of the study.
The responses captured on Table 1 and Figure 1 above indicate
that teenagers and youths in the survey secondary schools have
access to social media. 50.4% respondents agreed while 17.7%
strongly agreed giving a total of 68.1% users of social media.
Table 1: Nigerian teenagers and youth who live and school in the rural communities have access to social media.
|Access to Social Media
Figure 1: Teenagers and youths in the survey secondary schools.
Table 2 and Figure 2 above indicate the responses of students
about the means through which they access social media. 119 (45.8%) have access through their personal mobile phone,
32 (12.3%) have access through personal laptop, 67 (25.8%)
respondents said that they have access to social media through
parents mobile phones. Those who said that they have access
to social media through friends phones were 22 (8.5%) while 20
respondents said that they have access to social media through
Table 2: How Nigerian teenagers and youths in rural secondary schools access social media.
|Nature of Access
||Personal Mobile Phone
|Parents Mobile Phone
|Friends Mobile Phones
Figure 2: Responses of students about the means through which
they access social media.
The above Table 3 and Figure 3 indicate the social media
preference amongst teenagers and youths in the rural secondary
schools in Nigeria. The data presented above show that, Facebook
is the most preferred social media platform, 195 (75.0%)
respondents confirmed these data followed by WhatsApp. 19
(7.3%) respondent said that this is their most preferred social
media while 17 (6.5%) respondents preferred Instagram. This
result indicates that Facebook is the most preferred social media
platform for Nigerian teenagers and youth in the rural secondary
Table 3: Most preferred social media platform amongst Nigerian teenagers and youths in rural secondary schools.
|Social Media Preference
|Other Social Media
Figure 3: Social media preference amongst teenagers and youths
in the rural secondary schools in Nigeria.
The data presented in Table 4 and Figure 4 measured the
interest of teenagers and youths on social media. The idea was
to ascertain if respondents exposure themselves to social media
information that enhances their life. 191 (73.5%) respondents
opined that they do seek for information that will enhance their
lives while 30 (11.6%) said they do not seek for information that
will enhance their lives.
Table 4: Motivation for social media usage.
|My Interest in Social Media
Figure 4: Interest of teenagers and youths on social media.
Discussion of Findings
From the study it has been realized that teenagers and youths in Nigeria secondary schools have access to social media
through personal/parents mobile phones, empirical data in this
study showed that 119 (45.8%) respondents have access to
social media through their personal mobile phone, 67 (25.8%)
respondents said that they have access to social media through
parents mobile phones. This finding also supports Odoh and Ajah
 study which revealed that the rural Igbo-Etiti have access to
telecommunication services as well as the use of social media.
This study also concludes that Facebook is the most preferred
social media platform amongst the rural teenagers in secondary
schools in Nigeria. This result also agrees with Ahaotu and Amadi,
Ngonso and Egielewa  studies which attest that youth most
preferred social media is the Facebook. The findings also showed
that respondents expose themselves to social media information to enhance their lives and not for academic purposes. 191 (73.5%)
respondents opined that they do seek for information that will
enhance their lives while 30 (11.6%) said they do not seek for
information that will enhance their lives. This finding also agrees
with Odoh, et al. who studied the use of social media in Nigerian
academic/learning environment, and found out that social media
tools enable Nigerian undergraduates and teachers to freely s
communicate with friends and colleagues around the world not
for social reasons rather than academic purposes. Singh, et al.
 in their study of positive and negative effects of social media
on Indian youth also found similar result, that students of pre
and post-graduate colleges situated in Chandigarch City, India
do not use social media for academic purpose but rather surfing,
chatting and entertainment.
This study therefore concludes that, students in the rural
areas in Nigeria have access to social media through personal/
parents mobile phones. However, their use of social media has
no connections with their studies. These students only seek for
information that would enhance their social life.
1. Parents and teachers should monitor what teenagers and
youth of school age are doing with their mobile phones.
2. Parents, guidance/teachers should ensure that teenagers
and youth exposure to social media is for basically
3. Awareness programmes relating to social media use
should be organized in schools for students.
4. The harmful effects of over-utilization of social media on
academic performance should be told to students.
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