Students’ Social Media Use and its Perceived Impact on their Social Life: A Case Study of the University of Zambia
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Social media has become ubiquitous and almost inescapable, revolutionizing the way students communicate, interact and socialize; and has become an integral part of their social and cultural fabric. Consequently, students are spending a substantial part of their time on social media. University students and youth are considered the largest users of these technologies. Despite a growing corpus of literature on the usage of social media around the world, there is a dearth of research in Zambia on how social media affects the students’ social life. This descriptive, exploratory study examined the types of social media platforms students commonly use, the amount of time students spend on social media, the purposes for which students use the social media and the impact of social media use on students’ social life. Two hundred and fortyfull time students in the School of Education, at the University of Zambia, completed self-administered questionnaires and their responses were analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 23. Results indicated that the most commonly used social media platform was Whatsapp, most of the sampled students reported actively engaging in this social media application between 31 to 60 minutes on a daily basis.The study also found that more than half of the students found themselves saying “just a few more minutes” when using social media, checked their social media sites before doing something else,felt their academic productivity suffered because of social media, failed to to cut down on time spent on social media,recieved negative comments from others about their use of social media and felt stressed out due to social media use.Furthermore, 22.4% of the students felt addicted to social media.Students used social media more for social information than for academic purposes. Social interaction is enhanced by social media use among students. Thus, productive use of social media is recommended while minimizing its negative impact. Furthermore, it is hoped that this study will attract further research in this area with more divergent and larger samples of varying student demographic characteristics.