The world has gone mobile. We live in an information society and are connected to information anywhere we go in whatever we do and that has changed how we people behave as we never look up anymore, reads a blog created by a researcher in Finland.
The growth and enhanced access information technology has resulted in the advent of social media which has gained worldwide growth and popularity in the last decade and it is evident that teenagers and young adults are the most frantic users of social media sites which takes on different forms such as facebook, twitter and WhatsAap.
We cannot deny the fact that social media is an important tool in our lives today. However, the amount of time spent using social media by the youth especially school going children is alarming.
Recently, the Basic Teachers Union of Zambia (BETUZ) attributed the continued trend by pupils to depend on exam leakages to the tendency of spending more time on social media instead of concentrating on studies.
BETUZ Copperbelt Secretary Christopher Simukonda was quoted in the media to have expressed concern over the lack of concentration and the subsequent dependency by pupils on examination leakages to the tendency of spending too much time on social media at the expense of studies.
Others from various spheres of life have equally expressed similar sentiments among them the clergy, pupils and organizations that administer the affairs of the youthful population in the country.
Grace Fellowship Ministries senior Pastor in Chililabombwe Reverend Chilala Choongwe said in an interview that social media is a tool which can be both helpful and destructive to pupils depending on how they use it.
“Pupils can use social media to research on certain topics or information that might not have been clear in class and to enhance understanding on what they learn from school.
On the other hand social media is harmful because these pupils begin to look at obscene material which destructs them from education research and waste a lot of time,” he said.
Reverend Chilala stated that the amount of time one spends on social media and what they do there is influenced by their characters, levels of discipline and visions.
He said young people were engaging in mischievous behavior and spending so much time on social media doing unproductive things because many of them were not visionary and tended to imitate the behaviour of their peers.
He further implored Parents and teachers to be the main players in influencing their children’s characters and behaviours through the kind of lifestyles they exposed them to.
“My appeal to parents is that they must be patient with their children and desist from introducing children to smart phones and other gadgets at a tender age. At the time when the child is ready to handle these smart gadgets parents and teachers should provide total guidance to the children on how to go about using social media,” he said.
The reverend noted that the nation risked raising a generation of lazy and immoral people if parents and teachers fail to guide their children on the productive manner in which social media can be used.
Meanwhile Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) governance advisor Isaac Mwanza said the association is saddened by the amount of time young people are spending on social media doing nothing or arguing unconstructively.
He added that social media has influenced the language of pupils as they prefer to use short hand words which impact negatively on their academic performance.
“Social media is a very useful tool and young people are encouraged to take advantage of it by using it for constructive discussions, sharing information that is productive and academic debates on various topics,” he said.
Mwanza advised pupils to concentrate on their studies and work hard to avoid the habit of looking for leakages.
However, a grade nine pupil at Kamenza Secondary School in Chililabombwe, Emmanuel Masilokwa said social media helps pupils acquire extra information which is useful for their studies.
“It offers us a good place for research but becomes dangerous if we spend a lot of time there doing other activities,” he said.
Masilokwa further urged his fellow pupils to concentrate on academic material on social media rather than other material which have a tendency to corrupt their morals.
Furthermore a secondary school teacher at Kamenza Secondary School Crispin Mugala said social media is being misused in the country especially during examination times.
Mr. Mugala added that social media has also brought about other issues such as pupils disrespecting their teachers.
It is true to say that social media is one the largest tools of communication as it allows for communication between friends, families and business partners across the world. It also enables people to express and exchange thoughts and feelings and provides a vast platform for various debates, discussions and exchange of information generally.
Social media is indeed part of the evolution process in the information and communication sectors and it cannot be separated from human beings. All efforts to ensure that it is used positively and effectively must be embraced as communication technology is cardinal to any meaningful social and economic development.