Utilizing Social Media Literacy Skills In Covid-19 Information Processing Among Youths And Adults In Ogba

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Utilizing Social Media Literacy Skills In Covid-19 Information Processing Among Youths And Adults In Ogba


Abstract


Social Media is an invaluable means of disseminating information to the citizenry; hence it is a powerful tool of propaganda. In lieu of the Ogba situation, it acts as a two-edged sword as it allows citizens to be privy to information without impediments. However, this same tool has been used to misinform the populace and to circulate unverifiable and deceptive messages to citizens. As regards this, the basic question becomes: what are the advantages and disadvantages of the roles of Social media in informing the general public about pandemics such as Covid19?

This qualitative study would explore Social media where the contestations about the pandemic are most pronounced. Considering that these are the major mainstream forums used by the populace outside the World Health Organizations’ (WHO), Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and State institutions, the most pervasive messages from these forums have been selected for analysis. The paper therefore interrogates the roles which social media play in either curtailing or aiding the spread of the news on the pandemic across the country. The research concludes that the significance of Social media outlets cannot be overemphasized with recourse to information dissemination. It also purports that these platforms have been abused as people hide under its anonymity to spread fake messages and instigate panic amongst members of the general public.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of Study

Over the years, social media has become an active technological tool in Ogba; as well as a news and communication channel for the citizenry of Ogba. Access to mobile telephony especially among the technologically savvy youths has made dissemination of information easy with a snap of the finger. In recent times, as the pandemic encroaches on and emasculates world activities, social media platforms have been utilized as an information outlet to citizens. Its significance has gained more recognition owing especially to the fact that the government implemented a lockdown policy to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Thus, it has become an active tool for engagement and communication for the dissemination of plausible information as well as incredulous (mis)information.

There is a growing body of literature on social media. A critical analysis shows change and continuity in communication and information technology. Let’s examine below some of the issues. Social Media is an offshoot of the Internet and according to DiMaggio et al. (2001, p. 307), the Internet refers to the electronic network or networks that link(s) people and information through computers and other digital devices; thereby allowing for person-to-person communication and information retrieval. The Internet is a major tool that emerged for the purpose of information dissemination; thus, the media acts as an information hegemon in terms of determining what information is made available to people as well as the impression people have on issues (Savrum & Leon, 2015). Largely, Social Media is the collection of websites and web-based systems that allow for mass interaction, conversation and sharing among members of a network (Murphy, 2013, p. 3). These diverse media outlets and communication networks played an important role in facilitating uprisings such as the Arab spring (AlSayyad & Guvenc, 2015, p. 2025). Its power lies in live pictures conveyed by video recording of events as it unfolds. The international livestreaming of events is capable of mobilizing a huge population of citizenry for positive or negative end. More so, it has played an important role in crippling dictatorial regimes. Unfortunately, these various outlets have been abused as unscrupulous people hide under its anonymity to defraud or relay false information. As the importance of Social media is not lost on the general public for information engagement, its abuse in Ogba especially during this emergency period is neither lost on any keen observer. Consequently, its advantages and disadvantages are highlighted in this study.

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) is an infectious disease causes respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory difficulties. It originated from the Hunan seafood market at Wuhan, China where live bats, snakes, raccoon dogs, wild animals among others were sold in December 2019 (Shereen et al., 2020, pp. 91–98) and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020 (WHO, 2020). Since its identification, the virus is said to have accounted for about 512,311 deaths globally out of a swooping statistic of 10,514,028 positive cases which sadly increases exponentially daily (WHO, 2020). The first victim of the virus in Nigeria was an Italian man who arrived in the country on the 25 February 2020. He was admitted to an Isolation Centre in Yaba Lagos after showing symptoms of the virus (NCDC 2020). Subsequently, the cases increased and, as at the time of this paper, almost 28,711 positive cases and 11,665 recuperated persons have been identified (NCDC, 2020).

Some state governors have also taken proactive actions by closing their “borders” in a bid to curtail the spread of the virus. Other measures include prohibition of mass gathering of people at churches, sports arenas and burials while schools were closed nationwide. The achievement of these feats can be attributed not just to proper healthcare facilities but also to the impacts of Social media in the country. Its platforms: WhatsApp, Twitter, Social media, and YouTube have become varying means of communication and engagement by not just the government but by the general populace. Contrarily, social media is also utilized as a means of propaganda in disclosing news and information, which at most are based on assumptions and speculations. On this note, this paper intends to interrogate the use of Social media as a tool for the good, the bad and the ugly as its relates to information processing.

During COVID-19 outbreak, many individuals, organizations and government agencies are posting their views regarding the Corona Virus in social media (Pokharel, 2020). People are using different social media platform for different reasons in the COVID-19 pandemic which creates the different implications in society concerning to health and overall crisis management in the society. This research explores both positive and negative influences of Social media concerning COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant crisis; whether social media has been helpful or harmful during this critical time.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

The world has leaped forward in terms of using internet based technologies for information flow and social media is a very popular means in every way of life. It is not a hidden fact that in Ogba, Social media were used massively during two historically challenging times like the Ebola of 2014 and the Lassa fever of 2017.

News creation and consumption have come in different ways since the advent of Social media. The widespread of the COVID-19 resulted in a tsunami of Social media (Mourad et.al, 2020).

The need for the study arises as concerned authorities like WHO, government offices, doctors, health professionals, the general public, learners, students, and academicians are using social media during the COVID-19 pandemic for multiple reasons. People in social media are doing many things concerned with the COVID-19 pandemic; people are expressing their opinions and sentiments; people are participating in a virtual debate that might have both positive and negative implications in the society especially for the management of the crisis.

Bastani & Bahrami (2020) found in the web-2 era, much of this misinformation is disseminated via social media where information could spread easily. An amount of potentially dangerous misinformation has been generated about the COVID-19 pandemic; which has been communicated via social networks. This misinformation comprises of different aspects of the epidemic, which is capable of threatening public safety, which further worsens the situation. This false and misleading news about COVID-19 is transferred faster than the virus, and it seems that people are fighting with two aspects of crisis e.g. virus and the associated misinformation with it simultaneously.

The use of Social media in risk communication about the global H1N1 flu epidemics showed that for the dissemination of risk messages and public participation of risk communication and management process different institutions and cultures can make use of Social media (Ding & Zhang, 2010). Above mentioned studies have contradictory findings. Bastani & Bahrami (2020) argue as social media has been a major source of misinformation which has put public health at risk; however, Ding & Zhang (2010) argue as social media can be used for the dissemination of information in order to minimize risk and management of crisis at the time of the pandemic.


1.3 Research Questions

  1. What role Social media is playing in information processing about the COVID-19 pandemic in society?
  2. What are the roles and contributions of Social media to foster social collectiveness in the COVID-19 pandemic?

1.4 Objective of the Study

  1. To explore the roles of Social media in information processing in COVID-19 in society.
  2. To assess the roles and contributions of Social media to build the social collectiveness in the COVID-19 pandemic?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This research looked at the role of Social media literacy skills in understanding COVID-19 during the pandemic and post pandemic. It explores the both positive and negative implications of Social media.

It will thus make us aware of the rational utilization of Social media. This study supplies abundant information on the role of Social media in information processing among youths and adults of Ogba and achieving collective action.

This study will be helpful in formulating plans and policies on social media regarding their use and misuse during pandemics and other critical times in society for the associated risk management.

This might be an important contribution to understand the role and influence of Social media in the lives of people and society. This study provides abundant information on the ways social media can be used to cope with the pandemic situation. This study might be one of the contributions for the productions of knowledge regarding this particular predicament of COVID-19 which might be helpful in further researches and studies.


1.6 Limitations of the Study

This study is apprehensible only to those people who are with social media and data are collected only from the social media users. COVID-19 pandemic is still prevalent in the world including Ogba at the time of writing this thesis. This research is based on respondent’s experiences and opinions with social media during COVID- 19 till the time study was conducted.


1.8 De-Limitations of the Study

I reviewed limited theoretical, methodological, and empirical literature. I employed only interviews, observation, sample survey and case study methods to get the primary information from the field.

The fieldwork for the research was conducted within a short period of time; one- month fieldwork was carried out which might not be adequate time for the analysis of the role of Social media at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study is conducted among a sample of 40 social media users, consisting of youths and adults in Ogba which may not be representative to explore the entire issues of research. I concentrated my study only among people aged from 16 -60. The experience and opinion of respondents may vary regarding the age of respondents therefore, the study may not be generalized for a bigger picture.


1.9 Definition of Terms

Covid 19:

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus. ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease

Information:

Facts provided or learned about something or someone

Literary:

The ability to read and write.

Pandemic:

A disease prevalent over a whole country or the world

Social Media:

Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking


Chapter Five


Summary and Conclusion

5.1 Summary

Study titled ‘UTILIZING SOCIAL MEDIA LITERACY SKILLS IN COVID-19 INFORMATION PROCESSING AMONG YOUTHS AND ADULTS IN OGBA’ is conducted to assess the role of Social media in COVID-19 information processing in Ogba. The thesis is composed of five chapters, each of them dealing with different aspect of the study.
Chapter one explore the research gap through reviewing of the pertinent literatures concern with pandemic, Social media and its role. This section also included the both rational and limitation of study that make this study more rigorous and authentic. The research objective of the study is

-To explore the role of Social media in information processing about COVID-19 and roles and contributions of Social media in social collectiveness to overcome the resultant crisis.

In second chapter, I have reviewed literatures regarding pandemic and Social media their roles and relationship. I reviewed literature regarding the role of Social media during Zika, Ebola, and H1N1 with special focus on COVID-19. I also revised roles of Social media during difficult situation in the society. I reviewed government policies regarding Social media and infectious disease and pandemic. In the last section of this chapter I provided the conceptual framework of my research.

Chapter two discusses on research methods applied for attaining the objectives of the study. This research is basically explorative research design and uses descriptive research design partly. It incorporates the study tools and technique of interview, observation and case studies.

I had chosen 40 Social media users applying purposive sampling. This study explains the lived experiences of Ikono LGA of Changunarayn Municipality of Bhaktapur District. Data are collected from both primary and secondary sources. Most of the data are qualitative while some data are quantitative in nature. Both qualitative and quantitative data are manually analysed. Qualitative data are analysed and interpreted identifying main words, phrases, narratives and sentence while quantitative data are analysed and interpreted through tables, percentage and comparison. The logic of reasoning is inductive method i.e. the results from empirical data are linked to theories.

In chapter four, I have discussed about the study area; its geographical area and socio- economic features. This chapter also provides the information on distribution of studied population in terms of their gender, age, marital status, educational qualifications and occupations.

Chapter five addresses the general understanding regarding the nature of using Social media platform with focus on the role of Social media in information processing about COVID-19 pandemic in the society.

The increased time consumption and the active engagement and involvement of people in the Social media after the advent of COVID-19 pandemic showed that people used Social media platform to get the useful information about the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 resultant lockdown, prohibitory order and social distancing increased people’s participation in Social media in their daily lives.

The study showed that people are getting more information form Social media platform rather than traditional media because of easy accessibility, less expensive, quick circulation of messages, bi-directional communication between source of information and consumer and multiple way of getting information i.e. audio, video, text, picture etc.

Social media spread both useful information and misinformation among people during COVID-19 pandemic. The information disseminated by Social media is about statistics of disease, safety protocols, precautionary and preventive measures, diagnosis, treatment, effect, signs and symptoms, consequences, dietary recommendations, vaccine, and medicines. It also disseminated the information regarding government and non-state agency’s policies, regulations, guidelines as well global and local scenario of the pandemic. The source of vital information in Social media were the official pages, Twitter handles and Instargam of MOHP, WHO, UNICEF, newspapers, doctors, health experts, scientists, other individuals and Viber group of MOHP. People get this information in Social media in texts, audios, videos, pictures, live chat and Social media live streaming. The misinformation is about the existence and advent of the disease, its data, footage, future speculation, vaccine, medicine, dietary recommendation, treatment, signs, symptoms and consequences.

Misinformation in Social media created confusion, panic and fear mongering environment in the society. It induced people to take wrong course of action. The sources of misinformation in Social media were individuals, groups and unauthentic news channels and pages.

Chapter six address the contributions of Social media in social collectiveness among people during COVID-19 pandemic.

During COVID-19 pandemic Social media is used in helping each other, in philanthropic work, charities, in food distribution campaign and fund raising activities. Social media played significant role in organizing people for the common cause and running Social media campaign and social movement for common good. People expressed their feelings, sentiments and emotions via Social media platform. Social media brought people together during difficult circumstances of pandemic.

Chapter seven provides the overall summary of the research with respective chapters. On the basis of findings conclusion are drawn and its implications are given. Suggestions for future research are provided at the end.


5.2 Conclusion

Information processing about the disease among mass citizens from the early phase of the pandemic is the major step to minimize the possible risk. Spreading of timely and correct information regarding the disease minimize future damage and save the lives of people. Social media platform plays a significant role to raise awareness about the pandemic in society via disseminating the information. Social media plays important role in pandemic preparedness, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease.

Social media also helps in breaking the chain of infection and rehabilitation of the victims. Social media platform facilitates telemedicine and telehealth. Constant reminders about the related messages like safety protocols, preventive measures, diagnosis, treatment etc. are key action to mitigate the risk in the pandemic. Social media play a vital role in the reinforcement of the related messages among people via repetitive messages in different forms i.e. texts, audios, videos, and pictures from different sources. Social media facilitates the active participation of public in communicating the risk messages in the society which is helpful in information processing among mass people.

It supports the effort made by state and non-state agencies to minimize the risks. It also makes the communication of vital information more effective and convincing among people. Social media disseminates both information and misinformation regarding Covid-19. The correct information helps to save the lives of people; at the same time misinformation mislead people that put their lives at risk. Active initiation and participation of government and concerned authorities in timely and correct information through Social media platform can help in combating the misinformation. Clear scrutiny, evaluation, and monitoring process of Social media platform and collaboration of government and concerned authorities with Social media platform are beneficial to combat the Social media misinformation.

Social media brings people together beyond social ties. Virtual network bridges the physical and geographical boundaries. Collective action, emotional support of each other through virtual connection, aggregated voice, and action for common issue helps in battling the pandemic resultant crisis. Social media fosters social collectiveness and social solidarity among people. The social cohesion fostered by Social media platform is a form of non-medical assistance to battle the pandemic in society.


5.3 Recommendation

Social media is not only electronic and computer-based programs. They are a new strategy in consuming the information. In Social media platform, people are not only passive consumers of information. They are active advocates and producers of information. In a democratic society, we live in today where the freedom of expression is ensured Social media platform are the way many people prefer getting their information.

Hence, government and stakeholders should include Social media as a significant aspect of their strategies for the dissemination of vital information in the management of the pandemic. In the hard-hit time of pandemic of modern days; Social media is not only beneficial in disseminating health-related information, but also creates the forum for dialogue and discussion among stakeholders and the public. The government can communicate people about their plans, policies, strategies, predictions, speculations, suggestions, guidelines, and future consequences of the pandemic through Social media.

Citizens can take participation in information processing among people by disseminating the correct and vital information. It enhances and fosters the efforts made my government and concerned authorities to minimize the risk. They can make use of Social media platform to inform about their situation and problems. They can give suggestive measures to concerned entities through Social media and pressurize them to do their duties, run virtual campaigns, raise funds, and conduct philanthropic works.

Health professionals can share their knowledge and expertise via Social media to clear the doubts of people and disseminate authentic information. Social media reflects the emotions, sentiments, thinking and reactions of people regarding the pandemic. This is helpful for the government and concerned entities to react and respond to crises differently and take the right course of action to solve the embedded problems.

Government and concerned entities can practice telemedicine and telehealth through Social media platform which reduces the load of patients in hospitals and reduces the chances of transmission of the disease. Practicing telemedicine through Social media reduces the financial burden of citizens.


Utilizing Social Media Literacy Skills In Covid-19 Information Processing Among Youths And Adults In Ogba


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Utilizing Social Media Literacy Skills In Covid-19 Information Processing Among Youths And Adults In Ogba


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