These days in Nigeria, clicking seems to have replaced thinking and viewing and browsing seem to have replaced reading, discovering and inventing.
In theory, the social media are meant to increase and strengthen social ties. But with the wrong balance as it seems the case in our country, the social media end up destroying individual relationships and intra-family communication as young people spend more time browsing, downloading, clicking and viewing rather than interacting with other family members and gaining knowledge and experience from them as it used to be.
Nigerian youths now spend more time with their blackberry phones, personal computers, iphones, ipads and other devices than with their parents and friends or even with their books. The reading culture of traditional books is taking a dive and illiteracy seems to be increasing by the day as the youths get used to abbreviating words and end up forgetting the correct spellings.
Discussions around meals or television programmes as well as face-to-face debates seem to be dwindling every day as online discussions, dating and others continue to skyrocket with little depth and no guidelines or gatekeepers.
True, the internet provides many social networking opportunities such as the expansion of personal networks to find people with similar experiences, to discuss common hobby and for the potential offline dating. But the internet cannot replace personal contacts, one on one or group discussions or even intra-family communication.
Nigerian youths spend hours everyday on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Blackberry and other social media platforms chatting with friends and exchanging jokes.
Experts say the ages of between 18 and 25 are critical for every nation. But with our youths now fully embracing the social media and dumping the traditional way of interacting and learning, our country seems to be in big trouble.
We believe that the right balance has to be struck. The social media are here to stay but the individual relationships should not be given a back seat. We must strike a balance between time we spend on the internet and time with our family members, friends, lecturers, mentors and our books. Nigeria can only be a great country tomorrow if our youths are well trained, well read and well groomed. This cannot be done only on the social media where there are no gatekeepers.