Social Media, Youths, and the Future of Nigeria

January 30, 2019 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

AFP photo

 

By

Jerome-Mario Utomi

 

 

Like every new invention which comes with opportunities and challenges, there was a veiled agreement among participants at a recent gathering in Lagos, that social media originally created to foster sharing of ideas, thoughts, information, and encourage the building of virtual networks and communities, has turned into a nightmare for some of its users, particularly the youths.

 

The graphic description of how youth’s uncensored access to social media adversely affects their education, promotes fake news, and appreciably encourages premarital sexual escapades underscores this assertion.

 

Indeed, it was clear that the participant at the one-day youth summit which had as a theme; Sex and Social Media; power of the mind, and organized by a faith-based group, were unanimous that what users make out of social media depends largely on their ability to perform, and engage their minds on tasks such as learning, reasoning, understanding and other activities known for its far reaching positive impacts.

 

Correspondingly, looking at the crowd of young Nigerians that fraternize with social media with ‘exiting progress’, recorded in this direction, and instincts coming from the larger society, it is deducible that the social media has great power to educate, create new ideas and promote human relations. But just as an unchained torrent of water submerges the whole countryside and devastates crops, even so, uncontrolled use of social media serves only to destroy.

 

This is the reality confronting our republic.

 

If this line of reasoning is correct, it will necessitate the posers as to; how many of the youths in Nigeria would stand the test? Who will stop those that cannot apply the virtue of moderation in their use of social media? And who should be the judge? Or must we as a nation allow the useful and the useless like good and evil go on together allowing our nation to reap whatever fruit that comes to grief in the nearest future?

 

Again, aside from the fact that many who originally supported youth’s unhindered access to social media have recently come to realize that such judgment was plagued with both moral and ethical issues, there are questions of what the parents and government are doing to regulate the access from within.

 

The solution for these problems, urgent as they are, must be constructive and rational. But then, it would be naïve of me to proffer solutions without acknowledging the factors that contributed to this challenge the country is currently grappling with.

 

Beginning with reality, the most bracing of all these factors are; parent’s inability to regulate the activities of their children on social media and the government’s payment of reluctant respect to quality education in the country.

 

To shed more light on the above, the vast majority of parents have at different times and places, in their concern with values such as: work, success, prestige, and money advocated that social media is like a free press. It is an organic necessity in a society and if youths are precluded from using social media to ventilate their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent they may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

 

So, if you are asking why Nigerian youths have for the moment lost all fear of punishment and yielded obedience to the power of social media which their friends exercise, then, search no further as the majority of the youths enjoy their parent’s support.

 

But in taking this position, one vital point these parents failed to remember is that the formation of children is a delicate one. And experts have described adolescence as a period of the storm, a stage in the developmental growth that drives the youths to explore and express their psychosexual self to possibly know more about the world around them. Once the point is missed, such ignorance and mistakes by the parents causes on the child an opening that many a time is wrongly filled by ‘friends’- the internet voluntarily posing as one such friend.

 

What the youths in my view desire most from their parents are love, solidarity, peace, faith and not unhindered or uncensored access to social media.

 

Beyond the above concern, lays the question as to how the government contributes to the youth’s abuse of social media.

 

Undoubtedly, the not too impressive educational system characterized by incessant industrial action on one hand, and the quality of materials youths are exposed to by teachers in the name of education should be a source of worry to all.

 

After all, it’s established that one can be extremely educated and at the same time be ill-informed or misinformed.

 

For example, between the 1930s and 1940s, many members of the Nazi party in Germany were extremely well educated but their knowledge of literature, mathematics, philosophy, and others simply empowered them to be effective Nazis. As, no matter how educated they were and how well they cultivated their intellect, they were still trapped in a web of totalitarian propaganda that mobilized for evil purpose.

 

From the foregoing, it is important to underscore that the menace posed by the activities of our youths was created by the youth, accelerated by parents and government. An effort, therefore, must be made by all to end its existence and erase the guilt.

 

Catalyzing the process will require parents becoming more religious in monitoring the activities of their wards. Similarly, it will be rewarding in social and economic terms if the government pays more attention to the nation’s educational sector as a way of getting these youths gainfully engaged; this, no doubt holds the possibility of ending the fake news scourge on our political geography.

 

Nigerian youths on their part must develop the Spartan discipline to reorganize and go for activities with high moral values.

 

 

 

 

Jerome-Mario Utomi

Jerome-Mario is a Social Entrepreneur and an alumnus, School of media and communication, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria.

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