Social Media: A Security Threat amongst Adolescents in Buea, Cameroon?

Kingsley L. Ngange, Vera T. Fonkem, Stephen N. Ndode

Abstract


Social media provide a platform through which societies can either be constructed or destabilized. In view of the ongoing bloody conflicts in Cameroon, this study examines the extent to which social media could pose as a security threat (with particular focus on community security) amongst adolescents in Buea, capital of the South West Region in Cameroon. The study uses a quantitative approach, through the collection of data from adolescents in four communities in Buea (Muea, Bomaka, Mile 16, and Molyko). These four areas are selected because the current socio-political crisis rocking the two Anglophone regions of the country – Northwest and Southwest, is particularly severe in these communities. Social media (notably Facebook and WhatsApp) spread dangerous content, and adolescents are vulnerable to such content. Findings indicate that there is a high rate of social media use (Facebook and WhatsApp) amongst adolescents surveyed. Also, the most discussed items on social media are socio-cultural issues (68%), as opposed to political issues (17.8%). Respondents were receptive to discussions on socio-cultural issues like dressing, language and relationships. Results also show that though adolescents come across violent content on social media, they have distanced themselves from being involved in the production, consumption, and dissemination (for instance, share information as received) of such violent content, partly because of the judicial consequences of doing so, as contained in the country’s Terrorism Law of December 2014. The implication here is that, since the adolescents are not yet intoxicated (whether advertently or inadvertently) with destructive social media content, need exists for the effective education of the adolescents, to enable this vulnerable and younger population to continue desisting from negative social media content. Emphasis should be on the consumption of positive social media content that helps in the moral and psychological growth of adolescents.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/smc.v7i2.4613

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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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