SOCIAL media has been instrumental in playing a big role in the lives of Malaysian students.
It is common to see young people browsing and surfing social networking sites, reading blogs or chatting using Facebook and Twitter through sophisticated devices anywhere and at anytime.
It is through blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube that users are allowed to create, share, collaborate and organise content among themselves, and at the same time provide virtual self-presentation and self-disclosure of oneself.
In 2011, it was reported that more than 770 million people worldwide visited social networking sites.
For example, Facebook claims that recently it had 500 million active users.
In Malaysia, the adoption of social media in particular has shown significant growth in the last few years.
Nine of the top 20 websites in Malaysia are social networking sites and the top five are Yahoo, Facebook, Google, YouTube and Blogger.
There are several social media sites established in Malaysia such as, myfriends2u.com, ruumz.com, Friendster and Twitter.
Facebook is currenly the most visited social media website in Malaysia. There are 10.4 million Facebook users of which 3.5 million are youth aged between 18 and 24.
Social media complements the mass media and they are part and parcel of a youth’s life.
Social media is now a popular and commom medium of fostering relationships among people around the globe.
It is the “place” where new ideas are being generated and also serves as one of the most efficient methods in educating oneself and gaining knowledge.
Let’s delve deeper. Since most students are active in social networking discussions, questions pertaining to school projects and lessons can be answered or resolved quickly.
The point is social media makes it easier for users to share ideas from different sources.
It is a fact that the education system is much better in many developed countries, and having friends overseas enables students to come up with effective methods of sharing and learning.
The same goes for teachers who use the social media as a platform to answer queries and monitor their students’ progress.
Although social media connects people across the globe instantly, there are still drawbacks especially within the context of socialisation.
The excessive usage of social media has caused social and health problems to Malaysians too.
Malaysia incidentally is ranked sixth in Asia with the largest number of obese people. About 15.1% of Malaysians aged between 18 and above are suffering from obesity.
The Health Ministry has attributed the obesity issue to the excessive use of “exciting electronic gadgets and instantaneous communication”.
The usage of social media has caused Malaysians to waste precious time in front of computers and resist physical activities.
Another issue that needs to be considered is the quality of communication on social media.
Although the communication evolution has been brought to the next level, there are still certain issues to be addressed.
For example, social media makes it possible to interact with people around the globe through a few simple clicks but the question that needs to be answered is “Do Malaysians really communicate with each other?”
Communication is the essence of life for a human being. We communicate for the sake of survival. The genuine communication is our connection with another person.
Malaysians spend more time on their social networking sites without meeting their friends face-to-face.
Statistics show that Malaysians are engaged for long hours on social networking sites rather than actually meeting people .
It is very common in Malaysia to have people who are busy updating their Facebook status or being on other social networking sites.
People tend to share everything about themselves on social networking sites rather than having an actual conversation with their family and friends.
Malaysians fail to realise that they are actually losing the rapport among family and friends by indulging themselves in various social networks.
Eye contact, voice tone and gestures indicate or prove the authenticity of the message communicated by human beings.
Social media hides the real non-verbal communication and replaces it with smiley faces and symbols.
Will people be able to communicate effectively among themselves without non-verbal communication?
Social media grabs the total attention and concentration of students and diverts them towards non-educational, unethical and inappropriate actions such as useless chattings which are time consuming.
It is very important to realise that every second is precious. The social media addict becomes a useless node for parents, friends and associated people.
Applications such as games, advertisements and other online activities while providing immense joy to their users can also be destructive to students.
As a result, social media addicts show little or no academic growth since much of their time is spent staring at the screen.
While it is relevant to enagage in social media in this era of globalisation, only a reasonable time should be allocated for such activities.
After all, there are more important factors that can bring about benefits to us.