ACADEMIC USE OF SOCIAL NETWORKS AMONG UNDERGRADUATES IN FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES IN SOUTH EAST NIGERIA
This work is an investigation into the academic use of social networks among undergraduates in federal universities in south east Nigeria. In carrying out this project, five research questions were set to elicit answers to the research problem. The researcher used descriptive survey design which was considered most appropriate for this study. The instrument used for data collection was structured questionnaire titled academic use of social networking sites among undergraduates’ questionnaire (AUSNSUQ). Population of the study was 72,096 undergraduate students from five federal universities in south east Nigeria in the 2012/2013 academic session. The sample size was 400 undergraduate students from three of the five federal universities in South East Nigeria. Multi-stage sampling technique involving purposive and proportionate stratified sampling technique using was used for sample selection. A total of 400 copies of the questionnaires were distributed and 398 were filled and returned for the study. Mean and Percentage were used to analyze the data collected. The three major findings of this research work are as follows: Out of the twenty social networks listed, only Facebook and Googleplus were accepted as the ones used by undergraduates; Students make use of only Facebook more than they use other social networks for achieving specific academic purposes listed. As a result of this, there is a serious need to create awareness that will bring to the knowledge of these students the existence and use of these social networks to improve their academic performance. Also, Students’ engagement with social networks increases technology proficiency and enhances research skills. The major problems that hinder academic use of social network includes low bandwidth of the internet (slow internet), addiction to non-academic uses inhibits acadermic uses, poor time management and lack of infrastructure like computers and laptops. The study also revealed that the following strategies can improve academic use of social networks: installation of reliable and up-to-date anti-virus software to ward off attack from computer viruses, upgrading of equipment to improve internet connection, provision of facilities like generators and fuel or diesel to curb incessant power outages and Students being disciplined to ward off distractions. Based on the findings, it was recommended that universities in federal universities in South East Nigeria should create adequate awareness to their students on the available social networks that can be used for academic purposes; social networks should become a seamless part of the curriculum and not just an additional means of communication; these universities should also subscribe to a very high bandwidth of the internet in order to ensure steady and very fast network, standby generators should be made available as an alternative to the epileptic supply of power by distribution companies and students should discipline themselves to avoid time wastage and addiction as this can adversely affect their health as well as their academic performance.