SOCIAL MEDIA AND UNCERTAINTY REDUCTION AMONG UNDERGRADUATES OF AKWA IBOM STATE UNIVERSITY IKOT AKPADEN
SOCIAL MEDIA AND UNCERTAINTY REDUCTION AMONG UNDERGRADUATES OF AKWA IBOM STATE UNIVERSITY IKOT AKPADEN
1.1 Background to the study
Social media has exploded as a category of online discourse where people create content, share it, bookmark it and network at a prodigious rate, because of its ease of use, speed and reach social media is fast changing the public discourse in setting social trends and agendas in topics that range from the environment, politics to technology and the entertainment industry, Asur and Hubberman, (2010).
Martin, (2008) and Tusk (2010) share the same concept of social media to them social media is the use of facebook, blogs, twitter, my space as well as yahoo messenger for communication, sharing photos as well as videos. Asur and Hubberman (2010) also went further to posit that social media can also be constituted as a form of collective wisdom. In this aspect of social media the enormity and high variance of the information that propagates an interesting opportunities for harnessing the data into a form that allows for specific predictions about particular outcomes without having to institute market mechanism. One can also build models to aggregate the opinion of the collective population and gain useful insights into their behavior while predicting future trends.
In the last ten years the online world has changed dramatically thanks to the invention of social media, young men and women now exchange ideas feelings and personal information as a truly astonishing rate of seventy three percent (73%) of wired Nigeria teens now use social media website. Oberest (2010). However for the purpose of this study, social media is captured within the use of internet for sharing of communication content by users.
The increased use of social networking sites has become an international phenomenon in the past several years. What started out as a hobby for some computer literate, people has become a social norm and way of life for people, Boyd (2007).
In the past years, social media websites have become common, giving young people a new way to interact with each other and communicate with the world. Social networking became popular between 2004 and 2006 after facebook and MySpace were created. Facebook for example has over 500 million members and it is still growing and approximately 85% of undergraduates are facebook users. Schneider, (2009).
Social networking websites provide tools by which people can communicate, share information and create new relationship. With the popularity of social media on the rose our social interaction is affected in multiple ways as we adapt to our increasingly technological world. The way web users now socialize through the internet and it takes away the form of personal socialization that has been around forever.
Social media have affected our social interaction by changing the way we interact face to face, how we receive information and the dynamics of our social group and friendship. Asur and Hubberman, (2010).
According to Berger and Calabrese (1976) as cited by James .N and Erica A (2000) posit that people communicate to reduce uncertainty. The uncertainty reduction theory was propounded by Berger and Calabrese and it postulates that there is a connection between cognition and effects. Individuals actively seek information to reduce uncertainty and as uncertainty reduce the chances of likeness increases as their ability to predict the others behavior. James .N and Erica G, (2010).
They also went further to propose that people uses three basic strategies to reduces uncertainty ; (a) passive strategy such as observing the target in various situations (b) active strategy such as asking other about the target ; and (c) interactive strategy such as interrogation, self discourse and deception detection.
Hence, communicating through the internet and social media is quite different from communicating in person to person situation when people communicate through the websites, they use instant message (IM) and chat screens as well as status or twitter updates to talk to friends and express themselves, Kaitlin (2010).
Kaitlin established a conceptual link between social media and uncertainty reduction. According to her uses and gratifications investigations shows that the use of social media are motivated by desires to reduce uncertainty about social behavior and that social media communication as an interactive strategy is the prime technical through which people reduce uncertainty in social relationship.
Thus, it is against this background that it has become imperative to conduct this research aimed at investigating how social media influence uncertainty reduction among undergraduates of Akwa Ibom state university. This is largely because no empirical study has been conducted in Nigeria to ascertain the influence of social media and uncertainty reduction among undergraduates of Nigeria universities.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The rapid advancement of media technology has held a great impact on the way people communicate on a daily basis. The growing dimension of the use of the social media among undergraduates has become more and more popular it is a way to make connections not only on campus but with friends outside of school. In other for communication to take place effectively people (undergraduates) has to interact inter personally with others, this is what reduces uncertainty.
Mehmood and Taswir, (2013) postulate that the use of technology such as the social media is one of the most important factors that can influence communication among undergraduates positively or adversely many parents are worried that students are spending too much time in the social media sites and are continuously utilizing these sites on ‘daily basis rather than interact with family and friends.
Jacobsen and Forste (2011) believe that the use of technology such as social media is one of the most important factors that can influence of uncertainty reduction in the establishment of social interactions and relationship amongst people (undergraduate).
According to the Forrester research (2015) 75% of internet surfers use “social media” in the second quarter of 2008 by joining social networks reading blogs or contributing to reviews; this represent a significant rise from 56% in 2007. The growth is not limited to teenagers, either member of generation X but cut across the ages of 35-44years old forming the increasing population of joiners thus it is therefore reasonable to say that social media represents a revolutionary new trend upon which communication thrives upon.
Although it is not certain the extent to which social media reduces uncertainly amongst undergraduates of Akwa Ibom state university, hence this study seeks to find this out.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study were:
- To examine the influence of social media in uncertainty reduction among under graduates in Akwa Ibom state university, Ikot Akpaden.
- To find out the extent to which social media reduces uncertainty among undergraduates in Akwa Ibom state university Ikot Akpaden.
- To ascertain how undergraduates of Akwa Ibom state university use social media to reduce uncertainty.
- To ascertain other factors that can reduce uncertainty among undergraduates in Akwa Ibom state university.
1.4 Research Questions
Based on the objectives of the study the following research questions were formulated to guide the study:
- Do social media help in reducing uncertainty among undergraduates in Akwa Ibom state university, Ikot Akpaden?
- To what extent do social media help in reducing uncertainty among undergraduates in Akwa Ibom state university?
- How do undergraduates in Akwa Ibom state university use social media to reduce uncertainty?
- What other factor can help undergraduates in Akwa Ibom state university reduce uncertainty aside social media?
1.5 Hypothesis of the Study
Based on the objectives and research questions that guide this study the following hypothesis was formulated:
Hi: Social media enhances uncertainty reduction among undergraduates of Akwa Ibom state university, Ikot Akpaden.
1.6 Justification of the Study
This study will be significant in a number of ways, first, this study will help give information on the influence of social media in uncertainty reduction by highlighting the role it plays in reducing uncertainty in undergraduates of Akwa Ibom state university. Second, the study will serve a background tool to any researcher who wishes to conduct a research in this field. Third, this study will increase scholarship as data gathered and findings drawn will constitute a new body of knowledge as regards this field of study.
1.7 Delimitation of the Study
This study focused on social media and uncertainty reduction among undergraduates of Akwa Ibom state university, this study would have been made to cover a wider geographical zone but due to strategic reasons such as time constraint amongst others, the researcher delimited the study so only undergraduates of Akwa Ibom State University. Also due to the scope of the independent variable social media, the researcher delimited social media to social networking sites. Hence, this delimitation will enhance validity, objectivity and reliability of the research result.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
This research work is concerned with the social media and uncertainty reduction among undergraduate in Akwa Ibom State University, Ikot Akpaden and it was not without any constraint.
The major problem that was faced in the course of the study was the negative cooperative attitude of respondents towards the research instrument. One of such negative attitude was the non-readiness of respondents to accept the questionnaire and ensure accurate and sincere response to the questions without gratification.
Another constraint was the non-availability of handy information regarding the total number of students in a particular department.
1.9 Definition of Terms
The key concept in this research work was defined operationally as follow:
- Reduction: reduction refers to the act of making smaller the amount of uncertainty in creating social relationships by undergraduates of Akwa Ibom State University.
- Social media: these are social networking sites used by undergraduates of Akwa Ibom State University for the purpose of communication and interaction
- Uncertainty: this means the doubtful nature of undergraduates in Akwa Ibom State University in engaging in social communication or interaction.
- Undergraduates: this refers to students of Akwa Ibom State University who are yet to earn their degrees.