The impact of digital communication in the 21st century
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The history of human communication began with the oral or spoken tradition. Through the course of history, the dissemination of messages progressed from simply the oral tradition, to script, print, wired electronics, wireless electronics and finally digital communication. The greatest change in message dissemination in recent history occurred with the introduction of computers and the Internet in the early 1990s. Since then, this drastic change of communication medium has significantly affected humans’ perception of the media, the usage of time and space, and the reachability and control of the media (Guo-Ming, 2012).
In the present age of digital communication, time has been compressed by reducing the distance between different points in space, and the sense of space has led people to feel that local, ^national, and global space becomes obsolete (Harvey, 2010). In addition, the reachability of digital media can now extend to all people, instead of a limited audience. This is significant because without the confinement of time and space, the control of message production and dissemination is no longer a privilege possessed only by church, state, and government, but instead, equally shared by all individuals (Guo-Ming, 2012).
The digital communication, that resulted from the invention, encapsulated the characteristics of the old or traditional media, and extended the potentials arid possibilities into which both the “old” and “new” media could be put into use. Tokunbo and Felix (2013) noted that the digital communication, promoted by Internet technology, exhibit an integration and convergence of the existing media to extend the frontiers of the possibilities of the media of communication, The digital communication, which hallmarked the integration and convergence of computer and telecommunication technologies, revolutionized the face of human communication especially in the 21st century7. The new information Technology “provides near limitless possibilities of increasing the quantity and enhancing the quality, speed, and availability of information in a complex but increasingly interdependent world (Soola, 2010).
According to Tokunbo and Felix (2013), the digital communication, propelled and driven by the internet, provide platforms for social interactions between and among users in such a manner that no older platforms/media can boast of. Ignatius, Alice and Lucky (2014) opined that by their nature the social media have peculiar characteristics that make them probably more appealing to the audience than the conventional media. The veracity of this assertion could be perceived in the pace of the growth of the social media sites over the few years of their emergence. He gave the example of Facebook, which is the acclaimed most popular channel among the social media reached over one billion users within ten years of its existence as a medium of communication in the world. The medium attained a “total of 1.23 billion users” in just a decade of its birth (Ignatius, Alice and Lucky, 2014). Other social media sites have similar significant number of users within their short span. This level of wider spread of the media among the people has never been seen in any other earlier means of communication.
The invention of the digital communication in modern communication is rapidly changing the whole mass media landscape and communication enterprise in the universe presently. This very development brought by technologies is affecting the means of assembling, delivery or dissemination and reception of mediated messages today (Ignatius, Alice and Lucky, 2014). These new means of interactions have greatly changed the media uses by the audience, the journalists and the mainstream media’s relation with the audience. The social media have altered the basic processes involved in news gathering and dissemination in the world. With that, the audience pattern of news consumption especially
with regard to the contents of the traditional mass media is envisaged to be affected.
However, the positive impact of the digital communication is greatly among youth as its allowed youth to make friends beyond the borders of their country. According to Chimela, Ovute and Obochi (2015), social media have provided an open arena where the youths are free to exchange ideas on various trending issues. In support of this fact, Chinwe and Uche (2014) noted that as social media is quickly becoming prime political battlegrounds for several political contenders, it has changed young people’s political outlooks and participatory behavior in Nigeria, This is because it has a democratic potential that opens for new forms of political participation and conversations. Socially, the digital communication have contributed in making an average Nigerian youth to know more about the different tribes in Nigeria (Ignatius, Alice, and Lucky, 2014). Therefore, the focus of this study is on the impact of digital communication in social life of Nigeria youth; looking into the credibility of News on social media amongst Ebonyi state University students.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
With the prevalence of the digital communication technologies, there is a change in the media choice of the youths globally, Nigeria inclusive. A researcher like Broddason (2016) gives credence to the above view bynoting that, “there is general agreement among media and communication scholars that a monumental shift is occurring in the media and communication habits of young people.” The rate at which they cling to the use of social media is quite alarming, this leaves people in doubt whether the new channels of communication would utterly displace or at least reduce the youths’ patronage of the mainstream media.
Presently, the youths’ much reliance and choice of the social media is not hidden at all. Invariably, these digital communication’s ability to exert influence on the use of the conventional media is an unarguable reality. According to Aja (2011) “traditional media organizations such as radio, television, newspapers and magazines seem to have lost prominence and their audience…” Their news and information, as the European Society of Professional Journalists (2014) observes, are being increasingly circumvented by users who use alternative media sources.
From the foregoing, the mainstream media’s losing of grip on the youths’ and the general usage of the prior existing channels of communication is an envisaged phenomenon. This kind of expectation is usually nursed by the people with the introduction of a new means of public interaction. That perhaps informed why Broddason (2016) arguesfor instance that “there is some suggestion of television being replaced by the “digital communication.”
However, amidst all sociological benefits, social media have regrettably contributed to moral degeneration and decadence among youths in several countries, including Nigeria. This, no doubt, stems from the gross obsession with and abuse of these social networking sites. Due to the increase in social media web-sites, there seems to be a positive correlation between the usages of such media with cyber bullying, online sexual predators and the decrease in-face-to-face interaction. Likewise, social media seem to be influencing youths’ lives in terms of exposing them to images or alcohol, tobacco, and sexual behaviors (Kaplan, 2010).
Therefore, the challenge now is that the influence of social media on youths’ uses of conventional mass media in Nigeria is hitherto buried in obscurity. Another problem is finding out whether the social media usage enhances the youths’ interaction with the country’s leaders. Also, it is important to systematically ascertain other purposes which the social media accomplish for the youths. These outlined points are the problems which this study has empirically investigated and provided answers to them.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study remains on The utility of digital communication in this contemporary day while other specific objectives include:
- To ascertain the influence of digital communication on youths’ use of traditional mass media in Nigeria.
- To determine whether digital communication usage enhance the youths’ interaction with Nigerian leaders.
- To examine the influence of digital communication to the social behaviour of Nigerian youth.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- To what extent is the influence of digital communication on youths’ use of traditional mass media in Nigeria?
- To what extent does digital communication usage enhance the youths’ interaction with Nigerian leaders?
- To what extent is the influence of digital communication to the social behaviour of Nigerian youth?
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This work will concentrate on The utility of digital communication in this contemporary day
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
- It is expected that the output of this research will benefit students
- and the administration of University, as will show the level of the students’ use of social media. Also this work will be of immense benefit to the field of Library and information sciences as it will be on addition to existing literature, and shall also add to the available academic literatures on digital communication.
- Also the findings could be used by academic advisers and counselors proffer professional advice to the university authorities on how to regulate the social network usage among undergraduate students.
- Again, the findings of this study would provide facts that will enable the ministry of communication technology to know what arises from students’ use of the social media. This will help the ministry, to -it know how to control social network usage.
- Finally, this work would be beneficial to future researchers who can now readily lay their hands on the result of this work by making use of The research report.
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