ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN MACHAKOS COUNTY

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ABSTRACT
This study sought to investigate the role social media in interpersonal communication among secondary school students in Machakos County. Past studies have shown that in the contemporary society, the increased application of the social media especially among teenagers has affected their relationship with the external environment. The study was guided by various objectives: to establish the different forms of social media sites used secondary students to communicate; to investigate the purposes of the social messages used by students in communication and the extent to they use social media messages in their interpersonal communication. The research questions were answered via a survey that involved the distribution of questionnaires (both open and closed ended questions) to the main informants (students) and interviewing their parents. A pilot test was used to determine any weaknesses or limitations in the design of the questionnaires and make any changes necessary to suit the study objectives. The study used the descriptive survey design as a method of gathering information from the participants. The target population for the study constituted students at Machakos Girls High school (300) and Machakos Boys High school (400), in Machakos County and parents (200). To get the sample of the study, purposive sampling and convenience approach were used. The data collected was analyzed using SPSS (statistical package for social sciences), excel and presented in pie charts, bar charts and graphs. From the study findings, it was evident that the most common social media sites among students include WhatsApp (36% of the users), followed by twitter with 23%, Instagram had 18% and Facebook with 16% and lastly, YouTube which was accessed by 10 percent of the total population. Moreover, it was evident that a significant proportion of the respondents pointed out that they prefer using social media messages to converse with their peers. However, it was found that pervasive use of the internet in communication and entertainment has a negative effect on face-to-face interaction/communication among the teenagers and the youths. Parents according to the findings are not keen to monitor the use of social media by their children and in fact they allow them to have mobile phones. Despite, a significant proportion of the students stressing that the social media is beneficial; these findings suggested that parents should pay close attention to their kids especially and closely monitor their activities online.

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