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Excessive social media usage affecting reading culture, experts caution


Social media on smartphone
Spending lengthy hours on social media has a deliberating effect on the reading culture of students, and stakeholders contend that this development could lead to very poor learning outcomes.

In view of the impending unpleasant consequences, Dr. Chris Anyokwu, who teaches African Poetry, African Literature and Literary Theory, at the Department of English, University of Lagos, is calling on the National Orientation Agency (NOA), to mount sustained campaigns on the need for students to develop a strong bond with their books, and also make conscious efforts to imbibe reading culture, while scaling down on the number of productive hours spent on social media.

The university teacher who spoke during the second edition of Reading Café, which took place at the University of Lagos, maintained that social media has negatively affected the intellectual ability of youths.

“Internet poses a threat to our students, as they no longer read novels, playlets, and poems in the traditional media i.e. the book form. They do not enjoy the synchro of the page any more. They prefer to go online, not to read the e-copy of these books, but they are more interested in the snippets, summaries or spark notes than reading than whole book …”

Speaking in the same vein, Editor-in-Chief, Dunamis Publication Limited, Mrs. Lechi Eke, explained that the initiative behind Reading Café was to reawaken “reading culture among Nigerians because youths are increasingly being caught up in the Internet, phone and technology, and reading culture is gradually dying out… So, we want to revive it, stir it up in youths to go back to reading to the extent that even when they buy snacks wrapped in old newspapers, they would read the wrap in order to have an idea of what had gone past.

The writer who said that just that act of reading might stir up an interest to write something along that line, or any topic, added that, “Social media poses a threat not only to students, but to everyone, as it is time-consuming. Everyone should have interest in reading, as no one can be a good writer without reading.

In an interview with The Guardian on the sidelines of the programme, former provost, Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Dr. Elizabeth Ikem, urged participants to “read as wide as you can and practice writing frequently because writing is not what you acquire overnight.

Ikem, who said that a “good reader makes a good writer,” added, “Decide the type of writing you want to go into either as a poet, novelist or biographer. Writing is not a field you get immediate gratification, but I believe with time, the value of creative works will begin to gain ground. That means reading culture also has to improve. My concern is for the younger generation as these days, sights and sound has taken over the serenity that goes with reading. People don’t want to read but want to watch television. Reading involves engaging your mind and intellect.”

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