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THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IS FACILITATING POLITICAL AWARENESS AMONG YOUTHS IN KENYA

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THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IS FACILITATING POLITICAL AWARENESS AMONG YOUTHS IN KENYA

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

  1. Background of the study

The pervasive presence of social media within the information age has significantly contributed to the acceleration of democratisation and political advancement. The media, a contemporary phenomenon in the spread of information and knowledge, has beyond the confines of conventional modes of communication and social interaction, therefore becoming an integral aspect of individuals' lives. Consequently, it has a profound influence on their social, political, and economic endeavours. In previous decades, the Internet was widely regarded as a news medium; nevertheless, contemporary civilizations increasingly rely on social media platforms as primary sources of information. Social media platforms have been widely used for social networking purposes, enabling millions of individuals to connect and engage with others in an open domain. These platforms facilitate many forms of communication, including text, voice, photos, and videos (Alquraan et al., 2017). The inherent interactivity of social media platforms renders them suitable for a wide range of applications, including but not limited to job searching, socialising, educational pursuits, entertainment, governance, and political engagement. Therefore, social media platforms, serving as tools for social communication, facilitate engagement, connectivity, the ability to share information across different locations, and the cultivation of connections and interactions among individuals. Frequently used social media platforms include Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, Imo, 2go, YouTube, Telegram, and Flikr. The advent of social media technology has prompted several people who are comfortable with using the Internet to incorporate it into their daily life. Nevertheless, research has shown a significant increase in the use of social media platforms among young individuals, who are often seen as possessing more technological proficiency compared to previous generations. The word "youth" encompasses persons ranging from physical teenagers to those in their maturity. According to Apuke and Tunca (2018), the term "youth" refers to those who possess an identity and age that is between that of children and adults. According to the United Nations (2015), the term "youths" encompasses anyone who fall between the age range of 15 to 24 years, inclusive. The younger generation plays a crucial role in the presence, continuity, and socio-economic progress of countries due to their youthfulness, vitality, and capabilities. It is not surprising that they are often referred to as "the leaders of tomorrow" or "the future of society." Based on the most recent figures provided by the United Nations in 2019, the global population comprises around 1.2 billion individuals between the ages of 15 and 24. This demographic represents 16 percent of the total global population, signifying that one out of every six individuals worldwide falls within this age range (United Nations, 2019a, 2019b). It has been observed that in some regions around the globe, there is an increase not only in the absolute numbers of young individuals but also in their proportion relative to the overall population. In some nations, there exists a disparity between the growth rates of the youth population and the economy, with the former surpassing the latter. This discrepancy is evident as more than one in three individuals inside these countries may be classified as young individuals. This highlights the significance of young individuals in the development and advancement of countries. Allcott and Gentzkow (2017) similarly discovered that Facebook and Twitter were two widely used social computing platforms among the young population in Kenya. The motivation for this research stems from the increasing use of social media by politicians, which has become a popular platform among young people as an alternative method for fostering political knowledge and engaging with the audience. Globally, there exists a widespread recognition of the significant impact of social media utilisation in relation to political uprisings, fundraising endeavours, and the dissemination of political consciousness. The people of Kenya have not been excluded from the progress of technical advancements. The accessibility and affordability of communication and information in contemporary times may be attributed to the emergence of new media networking sites (Silverman, 2016). Websites and social media networking sites provide a novel avenue for fostering political knowledge. According to Bakshy, Messing, and Adamic (2015), the platform's networked nature is a significant attribute that presents potential challenges for authoritarian leaders. The significance of social media in fostering political awareness is seen in the emergence of novel forums for political discourse, such as Twitter and Facebook (Abdulrauf, Hamid, and Ishak, 2015). Furthermore, the domain of political consciousness has been enhanced by the utilisation of digital technology, which serves as a pivotal platform for worldwide social media (Bodó, Helberger, & Vreese, 2017). The use of social media networking platforms as a fundamental element of campaign strategies is seeing a consistent increase, as several politicians have embraced this technique due to its associated advantages, including cost-effectiveness and a broader user base. The year 1996 saw the emergence of new media social networking sites as a means of promoting political awareness, but with little participation from politicians. Therefore, the study examines the role of social media is facilitating political awareness among youths in kenya.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The significance of social networking sites (SNSs) in engaging young people in the political process is widely acknowledged, while there is ongoing debate on the specific amount, type, and extent of this involvement. Chepkorir (2017) has emphasised the impact of social media on voting behaviour, but other researchers, such as Collin (2015), have challenged this perspective by diminishing the influence of social networking sites (SNSs) on political knowledge. During the 2013 Kenyan elections, it was observed that two presidential candidates who extensively used social media platforms for their campaign efforts saw a significant disparity between their online popularity ratings and their actual results in the voting process. Uhuru Kenyatta, the individual who ultimately emerged as the victor in the presidential elections, possessed the most extensively endorsed (followed) page on the social media platform Facebook, as well as the highest number of followers on Twitter. This circumstance has led to conjecture that social networking sites (SNSs) perhaps facilitated his voter awareness plan. Recent discourse has brought out novel assertions positing that social media platforms may be detrimentally impacting democratic processes by their facilitation of the dissemination of false information, fostering toxic political environments, and engendering the formation of politically isolated echo chambers. Additionally, these platforms have been implicated in the degradation of the overall quality of public discussions. Hence, the study examine the role of social media is facilitating political awareness among youths in kenya

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to examine the role of social media is facilitating political awareness among youths in kenya. The specific objectives is as follows

  1. Find out the extent at which social media facilitate the spread of political information.

  2. Examine whether social media sites is a strong tool to create political awareness among youths in Kenya.

  3. Assess the relationship between social media usage and political awareness of youths in Kenya.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to further guide the study

  1. What is the extent at which social media facilitate the spread of political information?

  2. Doess social media sites is a strong tool to create political awareness among youths in Kenya?

  3. What is the relationship between social media usage and political awareness of youths in Kenya?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of this study would benefit the electoral bodies, political parties, policymakers, politicians as well as political science and communication students and scholars on the usage of the new media platforms for political purposes as it recommends the best practices for social media usage for political related endeavors.

The findings of the study will be significant to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on examine the role of social media is facilitating political awareness among youths in kenya. Hence, the study will find out the extent at which social media facilitate the spread of political information, examine whether social media sites is a strong tool to create political awareness among youths in Kenya and assess the relationship between social media usage and political awareness of youths in Kenya.

1.7 Limitation of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.8 Definition of terms

Social media:  a collective term for websites and applications that focus on communication, community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration.

Political awareness:  being alert to political and social currents and power relationships in organisations and more.


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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  • Methodology: Yes available


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