Digital Media

Digital Media and Social networks impacts on the African youth


The advent of digital technology and its social networks is reshaping our societies. These platforms offer new ways of developing interpersonal relationships. Out of 7.91 billion people in the world, there are 4.95 billion internet users and 4.62 billion active users of digital social networks. According to UNESCO, we are heading towards a proportion of 70% of young people having some kind of access to the internet. These young people, who are generally vulnerable, are exposed to the risks of manipulation, addiction, various forms of invasion of privacy, cyber-bullying and all kinds of influence. In this context, education systems must enable these young people to acquire knowledge and skills that will allow them to inform themselves, to broadcast, disseminate, analyse and share information in a responsible way. 

Negative Effects of digital media and social networks on the behaviour of young people in our societies

One of the characteristics of digital social networks is freedom. The Internet user is free to create a user account, to follow whoever he or she wants and to join any group or platform. This is not just freedom of access, but also freedom to create content and interact with other users. Taking advantage of this freedom, some influential users of these platforms engage in the sharing of obscene images, videos of sexual intercourse, immoral, violent and sexist speech. Topics such as pregnancy, condom use, homosexuality, abortion, female orgasm, virility are discussed.

Young people who do not yet have an autonomous and mature personal identity are thus influenced by these online practices. Blocked by the family education received and the social norms, the influential young person will not suddenly display new behaviours, but new conceptions are inscribed in his mind. These new conceptions will always manifest themselves in the end. In real social life, the young person changes his conception of a woman, she simply becomes a sexual partner. A woman for this young person is only the one who has the desired body and the one who is able to satisfy his sexual desires. 

This new conception, as well as this new sexist viewpoint, leads to a lack of respect for women’s dignity. Moreover, it results in discrimination and being objectified as sexual objects. Most of our societies we  witness exhibitionism, sexist outrage, blackmail, threats, pornographic messages or images and even the use of force, from forced kissing to touching to sexual assault and rape, including the administration of harmful substances and the sexual exploitation of women.


It is essential to point out that media and information education for African youth is one of the solutions to this spiral of violence. Combined with other disciplines such as civic education, philosophy and computer science, media and information education will enable young Internet users to discern responsible uses of digital technology, to use a critical mind wisely, to distinguish between knowledge and beliefs, information, false information and conspiracy theories, and the tendencies of influence and manipulation.

Solomon Garaobe


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