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The Pattern of Social networking sites (SNS) Usage among students in higher education: a comparative study between Malaysia and Nigeria.

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Abstract

This study solicited information from 269 randomly selected university students both in Malaysia and Nigeria. The samples responded to 25- item questionnaire which explored the extent and patterns of Social Networking Sites (SNS) usage among university students. The results show that more than 50% of the students both in Malaysia and Nigeria frequently used at least one or more of the SNS. Half of the Nigerian students reported spending more than an hour a day while half of the Malaysian students indicated they did not spend more than an hour on using SNS. Majority of students in both Malaysia and Nigeria indicated they did not browse the SNS in university facilities but in cyber cafes or via their own mobile broadband. Forty-three percents of the Nigerian students reported that they are heavy users of the SNS. However, only a mere 11 % of Malaysian students indicated they are heavy users of SNS. T-test analysis, t (267) = 8.812 shows that the extent of use of the SNS is significantly different between Malaysian students and Nigerian students. The extent of usage of SNS among Nigerian students were found to be higher than their Malaysian counterparts.
The Pattern of Social Networking Sites (SNS) Usage among Students in Higher
Education: A Comparative Study between Malaysia and Nigeria
Ahmad Jelani Shaari
Suleiman Ahmad
(jelani@uum.edu.my)
Universiti Utara Malaysia
Social science and Humanities
Please cite as below:
Ahmad Jelani Shaari & Suleiman Ahmad. (2010). The Pattern of Social networking sites (SNS) Usage among
students in higher education: a comparative study between Malaysia and Nigeria. SEIT Seminar 2010. 23-25
November 2010. Paradise Hotel & Resort, Hatyai, Thailand. Organised by RIMC, UUM
Abstract
This study solicited information from 269 randomly selected university students both in
Malaysia and Nigeria. The samples responded to 25- item questionnaire which explored
the extent and patterns of Social Networking Sites (SNS) usage among university
students. The results show that more than 50% of the students both in Malaysia and
Nigeria frequently used at least one or more of the SNS. Half of the Nigerian students
reported spending more than an hour a day while half of the Malaysian students
indicated they did not spend more than an hour on using SNS. Majority of students in
both Malaysia and Nigeria indicated they did not browse the SNS in university facilities
but in cyber cafes or via their own mobile broadband. Forty-three percents of the
Nigerian students reported that they are heavy users of the SNS. However, only a mere
11 % of Malaysian students indicated they are heavy users of SNS. T-test analysis, t
(267) = 8.812 shows that the extent of use of the SNS is significantly different between
Malaysian students and Nigerian students. The extent of usage of SNS among Nigerian
students were found to be higher than their Malaysian counterparts.
Keywords: social networking sites, SNS, Malaysia, Nigeria, comparative, higher
education.
1
INTRODUCTION
The Horizon Report first noted the emergence of social networking as a viable
educational tool in 2005 (Johnson & Smith, 2005) and has continued to refine this
discussion in each subsequent annual report (Johnson, Levine, & Smith, 2006, 2007,
2008, 2009). In the 2007 Horizon Report, the authors noted that, “the fact that so many
students want these interactions and seek them out is a strong indication that we need
to be very interested in them as well” (Johnson, Levine, & Smith, 2007, p. 18).
This study is to explore of pattern of usage of the social networking sites (SNS) among
students in higher education institutions both in Malaysia and Nigeria. It aims to elicit
information and perceptions from students that would provide the foundation for
planning and developing teaching and learning activities that would integrate social
networking tools in a manner consistent with student expectations and perceptions of
value. The outcomes from this study is the creation of a profile of of SNS users among
tertiary students in Malaysia and Nigeria.
The overarching goal of this study is to determine the extent of use of the social
networking sites among students in higher education institutions.
Objectives of the Study
1) To investigate the extent students are currently using social networking
sites for personal communication and related activities
3) To assess the pattern of usage of social networking sites (time, place,
source, benefit and preference) among students in Malaysia and Nigeria.
4) To compare the extent of usage of social networking sites between
students in Malaysia and Nigeria.
Research questions
1) To what extent are students currently using social networking systems for
personal communication and related activities?
2) What is the pattern of usage of social networking sites (time, place,
source, benefit and preference) among students in Malaysia and Nigeria?
3) Is there any differences in the extent of usage of social networking sites
between students in Malaysia and Nigeria?
LITERATURE REVIEW
The educational possibilities of social networking tools has been a recurring
subject of The Horizon Project (http://www.nmc.org/horizon) which seeks to identify
current and emerging trends in technologies to support teaching and learning. The
Horizon Report first noted the emergence of social networking as a viable educational
tool in 2005 (Johnson & Smith, 2005) and has continued to refine this discussion in
2
each subsequent annual report (Johnson, Levine, & Smith, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009). In
the 2007 Horizon Report, the authors noted that, “the fact that so many students want
these interactions and seek them out is a strong indication that we need to be very
interested in them as well” (Johnson, Levine, & Smith, 2007, p. 18). In 2007, Johnson,
Levine, and Smith again addressed social networking and emphasized “the gap
between students’ perceptions of technology and that of faculty continues to widen” (p.
7). Nevertheless, possible applications in supporting collaboration through the use of
social networking technology were highlighted by the authors. In the 2009 report,
Johnson, Levine, and Smith described the growth of mobile devices and the use of
these devices with social networking systems as well as the emergence of a “personal
web” through which students organize information and communication. The authors
view social networking technologies as a mechanism to “continue a conversation
outside of classroom walls or provide an easy way to update students on course
logistics” (Johnson, Levine, & Smith, 2007, p. 20).
One issue that is in contention is whether the use of SNS hinders academic
performance among students. This could be the reasons why many HEIs prohibit
students from using SNS via the university network. In a recent study sought to connect
Facebook usage and academic achievement, Karpinksi and Duberstein (2009) found a
significant difference between users and non-users of Facebook on both GPA and
average hours spent studying. Facebook users (n=148) had a GPA between 3.0 and
3.5 (out of 4.0) while non-users (n=71) typically had a GPA between 3.5 and 4.0. With
regard to hours spent studying per week, Facebook users averaged between 1 and 5
hours per week, while non-users averaged between 11 and 15 hours per week. Though
Karpinksi and Duberstein noted that these differences do not imply causality, the
relationship found is striking. It provides a compelling reason to consider whether efforts
to integrate social networking into college courses would be influenced by such
differences or whether such integration would serve to alleviate these issues by
employing these systems for academic purposes.
In a 2007 report exploring the uses of social networking systems among high
school students, the National School Boards Association found that communications
was the most prominent activity among users. In this study, 21% of respondents
reported posting messages to a social networking site each day with an additional 41
percent posting at least weekly. Sharing of multimedia content such as videos or photos
was also popular among the social networking users. The Nation School Boards
Association report also identified a particular type of student as a leader in using social
networking tools. Described as “nonconformists,” these students “are on the cutting
edge of social networking, with online behaviors and skills that indicate leadership
among their peers” (p. 2). Though the report suggests that these students are more
likely to have somewhat lower grades than other students, this group of students is
described as having “a extraordinary set of traditional and 21st century skills, including
communication, creativity, collaboration and leadership skills and technology
proficiency” (p. 3). This is in line with the Ministry of Higher Education effort in
enhancing soft skills graduates. The seriousness of this effort is reflected in the ongoing
My3S study on soft skills. This proposed study will ascertain whether soft skills could be
3
developed through the use of new technologies which seem to be the preference of the
new generation. If soft skills could be enhanced by the use of these new technologies,
appropriate policies should be implemented so that the use of SNSs becomes an
essential learning tool in HEIs. Base on these arguments, clearly there is a need to
consider if, and how, these tools can serve a purpose in higher education.
METHODOLOGY
Research Design
This study is a descriptive exploratory study which aims to determine the current
situation regarding the usage of SNS among tertiary students in Malaysia and Nigeria.
Population and Sample
The sample were 269 randomly selected from undergraduate students at Universiti
Utara Malaysia and Nigeria. A total of 120 Nigerian students and 149 Malaysian
students were involved in the study.
Instrument
The major data collection instrument is a survey questionnaire which was developed
based on the research objectives and questions. The instrument addresses the extent
and pattern of usage of the SNS, and related issues. The survey questionnaire consists
of 25 items which solicit the extent and patterns of SNS usage.
Data Analysis and Findings
Data was analysed using descriptive statistics in the form of frequency and percentage.
T-test was used to analyse the differences in the extent of SNS usage between
Malaysian and Nigerian students.
FINDINGS
Based on the data analyses performed, the followings are the findings of the study.
Three research questions were formulated and the findings presented reflect the current
situation regarding the usage of SNS among Malaysian and Nigerian tertiary students.
RQ 1: To what extent are students currently using social networking sites for personal
communication and related activities?
RQ 2: What is the pattern of usage of social networking sites (time, place, source,
benefit and preference) among students in Malaysia and Nigeria?
4
Table 1 displays the profile of the respondents. It is not surprising that almost all the
Malaysian respondents have SNS accounts; in fact, more than half have more than one
SNS accounts. Only ten of those Malaysian surveyed did not have their own computers.
Table 1
Profile of students in terms of level/year of the study
Profile No. No.
Year 1 Year 2 and
above
Year of study 130 139
Yes No
Computer savvy* 116 33
Personality* Happy Quiet
123 26
Own computer* Yes No
139 10
Overall academic standing* Not so
good
Good Excellen
t
20 123 6
Have SNS account* Yes No
146 3
Have more than one SNS* Yes
82
*Malaysian respondents only
Table 2 shows the means and percentages of the agreement to the statements among
Nigerian students. Among the 25 items on the usage of SNS, the item C1 (I frequently
use at least one or more of the social networking sites.) has the highest mean (M = 4.2;
SD = 0.84). This was followed by item C3 (I have been using SNS for the past one year)
with mean (M = 3.8; SD=1.2) and item C13 (Using SNS makes my interpersonal
relationship always stronger) with mean (M = 3.8; SD =1.0). Two items scored the
lowest means. Item C6 (I am interested in viewing pornography often on SNS.) has a
mean (M = 2.0; SD = 1.3) and item C7 (I came to know about SNS through invitation by
unknown user) with mean (M = 2.2; SD = 1.2).
5
Table 2
The extent of SNS usage among Nigerian students
SD D U A SA M SD
SNS Usage F % F % F % F % F %
C1: I frequently use at least
one or more of the Social
Networking Sites (SNSs).
(TIME)
2 1.7 5 4.2 6 5.0 60 50.0 47 39.2 4.2 .84
C2: I spend approximately
more than one hour per day
(TIME) 6 5.0 23 19.2 20 16.
745 37.5 26 21.7 3.5 1.1
C3: I have been using SNS
for the past one year.
(TIME)
10 8.3 12 10.0 11 9.2 43 35.8 44 36.7 3.8 1.2
C6: I am interested in
viewing pornography often
on SNS. 62 51.7 24 20.0 12 10.
012 10.0 10 8.3 2.0 1.3
C7: I came to know about
SNS through invitation by
unknown user. (SOURCE) 46 38.3 34 28.3 17 14.
215 12.5 8 6.7 2.2 1.2
Table 3 shows the means and percentages of agreement of Malaysian students for all
the 25 items. Among Malaysian students, item C15: I use special (short) language and
jargons when using SNS) has the highest mean (M = 4.04; SD =.75) with 133 out of 149
students indicating Agree and Strongly Agree. Item C1 (I frequently use at least one or
more of the social networking sites.) has the second highest mean (M = 3.8; SD = 1.08).
It was followed by item C5 (I came to know about SNS through a friend's invitation) with
mean (M = 3.7; SD = 1.03). However, item C6 (I am interested in viewing pornography
often on SNSs.) has the lowest mean (M = 1.3; SD = .548) with a total of 142 out of 149
students indicating Disagree and Strongly Disagree. Similarly, item C7 (I came to know
about SNS through invitation by unknown user) also has low mean (M = 1.51; SD = .81
with 133 out of 149 students indicating Disagree and Strongly Disagree.
6
Table 3
The extent of SNS usage among Malaysian students
Items SD D U A SA M SD
SNS Usage F % F % F % F % F %
C1: I frequently use at least
one or more of the Social
Networking Sites (SNSs). 4 2.7 21 14.1 12 8.1 67 45.0 45 30.2 3.8 1.08
C5: I came to know about
SNS through a friend's
invitation. 10 6.7 12 8.1 12 8.1 94 63.1 21 14.1 3.7 1.03
C6: I am interested in
viewing pornography often
on SNS. 113 75.8 29 19.5 7 4.7 - - - - 1.3 .548
C7: I came to know about
SNS through invitation by
unknown user. 96 64.4 37 24.8 10 6.7 5 3.4 1 .7 1.5 .818
C15: I use special (short)
language and jargons when
using SNS. 2 1.3 6 4.0 8 5.4 100 67.1 33 22.1 4.04 .747
Table 4
The extent of SNS usage (means) among Nigerian and Malaysian students
Items Aspects ID N Mean
Std.
Deviation
C1: I frequently use at least one or more
of the Social Networking Sites (SNSs).
TIME 1 120 4.20 .84
2149 3.85 1.08
C2: I spend approximately more than
one hour per day
TIME 1 120 3.51 1.17
2149 2.73 1.06
C3: I have been using SNS for the past
one year.
TIME 1 120 3.82 1.26
2149 3.36 1.10
C4: I came to know about SNS through
browsing the Internet.
SOURCE 1 120 3.77 1.27
2149 3.39 1.17
C5: I came to know about SNS through
a friend's invitation.
SOURCE 1 120 3.13 1.45
2149 3.69* 1.03
C7: I came to know about SNS through
invitation by unknown user.
SOURCE 1 120 2.20 1.26
2149 1.51 .81
C8: I do browse SNS mainly in the PLACE 1 120 2.66 1.41
7
University's computer laboratory.
2149 2.51 1.13
C9: I browse SNS mainly in the private
Internet cafes around the campus.
PLACE 1 120 3.28 1.34
2149 3.22 1.05
C10: I browse SNS mainly in the
wireless hot-spots / mobile broadband
PLACE 1 120 3.22 1.22
2149 2.27 1.38
C12: Online interaction makes me feel
ok just like the offline interaction.
BENEFIT 1 120 3.50 1.24
2149 2.57 1.07
C13: Using SNS makes my
interpersonal relationship always
stronger.
BENEFIT 1 120 3.83 1.08
2149 3.04 1.07
C19: I use SNS at any time and I don't
care managing my time.
TIME 1 120 2.80 1.31
2149 2.13 1.08
C21: I prefer using SNS in group or
company of other people because
PREFERENCE 1 120 3.00 1.29
2149 2.75 1.10
C22: I sometimes log onto SNS like
Facebook through links from
SOURCE 1 120 3.02 1.23
2149 2.42 .95
C23: I always browse SNS in isolation
just to keep some of my secrets
PREFERENCE 1 120 2.97 1.31
2149 2.10 .96
1 = Nigerian
2 = Malaysian
As indicated in Table 2 and Table 3, on most of the items, Nigerian students have
higher means than their Malaysian counterparts. For the item (C1: I frequently use at
least one or more of the social networking sites (SNSs).) , Nigerian students have a
mean of 4.2 while Malaysian students with a mean of 3.9. Similarly for the item (C23: I
always browse SNS in isolation just to keep some of my secrets) Malaysian and
Nigerian students scored different means. Malaysian students scored 2.1 while Nigerian
3.0.
On the other hand, for item (C5: I came to know about SNS through a friend's invitation)
Malaysian students has a higher mean of 3.7 and their Nigerian counterparts only 3.1.
Similarly, for item (C15: I use special (short) language and jargons when using SNS) the
Malaysian students have a mean of 4.0 while the Nigerian 3.4. For item (C9: I browse
SNS mainly in the private Internet cafes around the campus.) both Nigerian and
Malaysian students have close mean scores of 3.28 and 3.22 respectively.
The pattern of usage
In terms of pattern of usage of social networking sites (time, place, source, benefit and
preference) slight differences do exist between Nigerian and Malaysian students. For
the items which indicate time (C1, C2, C3, C19), Nigerian students scored higher
means than their Malaysian counterparts. For items which indicate sources (C4, C5, C7,
8
C22), Nigerian students scored higher means than their Malaysian counterparts except
for item (C5:I came to know about SNS through a friend's invitation). Likewise, for items
C8, C9 and C10 which indicate time, items C12 and C13 which indicate benefits, and
items C21 and C23 which indicate preference, Nigerian students scored higher means
than Malaysian students.
Differences in extent of usage of SNS between Nigerian and Malaysian students
RQ 3: Are there any differences in the extent and pattern of usage of social networking
sites between students in Malaysia and Nigeria?
T-test was conducted to determine if there exists any difference between Malaysian and
Nigerian students in the extent of SNS usage. Levene’s Test for equality of variances
was not significant with F value of 3.874; therefore, equal variance was assumed
between the two groups. Results of the t-test was significant, with t (267) = 8.182.
Thus, it indicates that Nigerian students (M = 79.8, SD = 14.01) scored significantly
higher than Malaysian students (M = 66.9, SD = 11.71) in the extent of usage of SNS.
This indicates that the Nigerian students used the SNS more extensively than their
Malaysian counterparts. Table 5 shows the result of the t-test.
Table 5
Independent Samples T- test of extent of usage of SNS between Nigerian and
Malaysian students
N Mean T value
Std.
Deviation D.F.
Nigerian 120 79.8 8.182* 14.01 267
Malaysian 149 66.9 11.71
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
Findings suggest that overall, students both in Malaysia and Nigeria are found to be
frequently using at least one or more of the Social Networking Sites. Significantly high
percentage of the respondents in Nigerian universities indicated that they are heavy
users of SNS. They claimed that using SNS make them get motivated. This concurs to
the report made by Horizon in 2005 which noted that the emergence of social
networking is an emergence of a viable educational and communication tool (Johnson &
Smith, 2005).
The findings also suggests and supported that Social networking technologies
are such mechanism that enhances a continued conversation outside the four wall of
classroom. This means that it provides an easy way to “update students on course
9
logistics” (Johnson, Levine, & Smith, 2007, p. 20). Users are found to be unique in
terms of the usage with common friends. Many users embraced the use of special and
short language or jargons in using SNS to communicate with friends. This could be due
to limitation of the use of characters allowed by most sites.
The time spend on the SNS was found to be within the range of one to three
hours. Most of the students averagely spend more than two hours per day including
those on mobile phone. This indicated that many of the users use the SNS at any time
day and night and most do not care managing their time.
Other contention is whether the use of SNS hinders academic performance
among students. This could be the major reasons behind why many HEIs prohibit
students from accessing the SNS via the university’s network. However from the result
we can understand that most of the students believed that using SNS makes their
interpersonal relationship stronger.
Using SNSs centrally remain among the students interacting and communicating
with people. This support the use of text, picture, videos and audio content posted on
the other users profiles. From these results many reported to be tagging friend users’
picture especially those with more pictures.
National School Boards Association found that communications was the most
prominent activity among users. In this study, 21% of respondents reported posting
messages to a social networking site each day with an additional 41 percent posting at
least weekly. Sharing of multimedia content such as videos or photos was also popular
among the social networking users.
This study concluded that SNS are popular application among university students
as well as a potential tools for learning; therefore, blocking or preventing student to use
it is not the ideal solution. Hence appropriate policies should be drafted so that the use
of SNSs be made more effective and responsibly. It will become an essential learning
tool in HEIs as such it will become more beneficial to the society at large.
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