Friday, November 1, 2013

South Africa's Students are addicted

South Africa’s students are addicted to social media – but are almost unanimous that it enhances both their academic and social lives. In fact, they believe it may even help them during exam time.

This was the key finding of the SA High-tech Student 2013  research study, released by World Wide Worx and Student Brands. The study, conducted among all universities and colleges across South Africa, included interviews with 1435 students.

Well over half – 59% – said they were addicted to social media. However, only 16% said they were very addicted – but only 18% said they were definitely not addicted. Instant messaging (IM) has similar appeal to students: 62% said they were addicted, of which 22% said they were highly addicted to the quick fix of quick chat.

At the same time, however, they do not believe it is a bad thing. While 45% of respondents said technology, including smartphones, the Internet and social networking, gets in the way of their studies, only 10% said it was a constant problem. A surprising 85% said it improved their studies, with a similar proportion – 83% – believing it enhanced their social lives. Asked what impact technology like smartphones and the Internet had on their lives in general, 81% said it enhanced their quality of life.

For these students, social networking and the Internet is not a good or a bad thing in itself, but has become an integral part of their lives.

Facebook is the universal social destination for students, with 96% of respondents using it, while Twitter is used by 70% of respondents. Google+ slots into third place, at 47%, thanks to the pervasive use of Google Apps for student accounts at universities. Mxit still retains a strong user base, with 39% of respondents reporting they were using it. LinkedIn, the professional network, claims a 29% share, largely students who are nearing completion of their studies and using it for employment prospects. Instagram and Pinterest, relative newcomers to the social networking environment, respectively attracted 16% and 15% of respondents.

64% – still cited Facebook. Twitter was in distant second at 16%, followed by Google+ with 7%, Instagram 5%, Mxit 3% and LinkedIn 3%. Only 1% favoured Pinterest. Among IM apps, similar levels of dominance were seen, this time led by WhatsApp, which was used by 79% of students participating in the survey, and BBM, at 57%. Facebook Messenger claimed 45%, and Mxit 28%.

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