Use of Social Media Rises in Namibia [opinion]

THE rise in the use of social media in Namibia has become an increasingly popular area of research among academics.

This year, three fourth-year students from the University of Namibia focussed their research projects on the use of social media, and their findings not only correlate nationally, but also synergise with similar findings of recent international studies in this field.

Tenga Salomo conducted comparative research into the media habits of Namibians in Windhoek and Rundu. His findings (An investigative research study on the media habits of people who live in Windhoek and Rundu) showed similarities between the two communities, in that television remained the most popular form of communication among them.

However, and possibly counter-intuitively, the study also revealed that newspapers and social networks were, if anything, more popular in Rundu than they were in Windhoek.

Another interesting conclusion was that Rundu radio listeners preferred NBC National Radio (46%) compared to the local NBC Rukavango Service (39%).

In Windhoek the radio listenership pattern was more varied, with 19% listeners liking Fresh FM, (15% each) for 99FM and NBC National Radio and Radio Wave and NBC Otjiherero Service getting 12% each.

In both Windhoek and Rundu NBC Television was the most popular television station, and The Namibian the most popular newspaper.

Facebook remains the social media network of choice in both Rundu and Windhoek, with few respondents indicating a liking for Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp or Google +.

In both communities social media use was between two and five hours a day, although in Rundu one individual claimed spending 10 hours a day on social networking sites.

Isabel Bento’s study (The Effects of Social Media and Video Games on the academic performance of University of Namibia students) looked at students in the Faculties of Law and Humanities and Social Sciences.

As with Salomo’s study, she found that Facebook (90%) was the most popular social network among students.

Her study also looked at the amount of time students spent on their cellphones.

She found, for instance, that more than half of the students checked for SMS messages three times a day.

Most had been using SMS messaging for over two years. She also investigated which technology (computer, tablet, laptop or smartphone) was mostly used by students to access their social networking account, and her results revealed that smartphones (68%) remained the most common platform.

Finally a research by Petrus Muronga (The usage of social networking sites for educational purposes at institutions of higher learning in Namibia) looked at how students used social media and whether academic institutions used these tools for education.

Although some lecturers used Facebook, for instance, to communicate with students, the study found that the majority of Namibian students regard social media as more useful for communication among themselves, with friends or relatives. Only a minority used it for researching information or for study purposes. As with Bento’s study, Muronga found that most students used their smartphones to access social media.

His study recommended that academic institutions should “integrate these tools within a given time frame” and “implement institutional policies on the use of social media in the educational environment.” He noted, however, that there were concerns that had to be addressed regarding security and privacy issues on social networks.

Robin Tyson is lecturer in media studies at the University of Namibia

Source : The Namibian