Though social media technologies and digital channels facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas or interests and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks, stakeholders are worried about its excessive use, especially by youths.
They noted that the extreme use of social media by the youths could be disruptive, and stressed the need for urgent measures to be put in place to mitigate the effects of social media.
Some of the other known adverse effects of social media are: rumour spreading, exposing youths to bullying, unrealistic views of other people’s lives and peer pressure.
Akanni Agboola, the Provost, Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Abeokuta, who spoke on the issue, said that excessive use of social media and internet might be injurious to mental health.
Agboola noted that depression cannot be solved by surfing the internet, as a lot of people resorted to social media and the internet, whenever they are depressed.
He said that excessive exposure to social media, could affect an individual psychologically and could even result in depression and emotional trauma.
“A lot of people resort to the internet whenever they were depressed, this is not the solution, people should rather seek for physical help by consulting a counsellor.
“People seeking for help online cannot get it, instead what they get are the negative things that have led many to suicide,” he said.
Agboola said that the rate of suicide in Nigeria has been high due to social media abuse, many of the things they are watching on their mobile phones are not helpful to them.
On his part, Charles Ayo, Vice-Chancellor, Trinity University, Yaba, said that the use of social media has both positive and negative effects on youths.
On the positive effects, Ayo said that it can be used to reach out to large audiences, to create organic contents, and build brand, among others.
The vice-chancellor listed the disadvantages as impractical expectation, social isolation, cyber stalking, lower self-esteem, sleep deprivation, anxiety, among others.
“We have our own culture as blacks to interact within ourselves and socialise..
“We visit ourselves and share our problems. We have an adage which says, a problem shared is half solved.’’
David Oyedepo, the Chancellor of Covenant University, classified social media addiction as being in the same category with drug abuse, illicit sex and alcoholism.
Oyedepo said that the social media that supposed to be a plus to youths, suddenly became a minus because it makes them to lose focus.
“It has been observed that many youths chat online, thinking that they can suppress depression, this is not true as investigations had revealed that social media was not helpful.
“The social media saga has eroded the substances of destinies as it has unconsciously robbed youths of their future and times,” he said.
He said that the honour of this generation has been wiped out, “chatting all day with no time to think, plan programme and engage productively in pursuit of any task.’’
Garba Abari, the Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA), said that the unregulated social media has caused steady decline in social values.
Abari said that the contents of a lot of internet and social media sites did not reflect the traditional African values.
“In recent times, social media has almost taken away our life; it is a distraction we must avoid, some don’t even bother to visit again, instead, they chat their friends online.’’
Abari also said “our youths want to run before they crawl because of the exposures they have had.’’
Some stakeholders stressed that there is the need for parents to create more times and monitor what their children do on social media.
They added that they also need to set limit on the amount of time their children or wards spend on the social media.
They also suggested that we need to go back to our original culture of social interaction and communal integration, which worked for us in the past, social media, they stressed should not take that away.
They also want the Federal Government and relevant agencies to strengthen public enlightenment, in order to educate the youths on the dangers of excessive use of social media..
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