A communication expert, Mr Olalekan Ajia, says good social media behaviour can aid the performance of students in schools. Ajia, a former Communication for Development Specialist at the United Nations, said this on Saturday at the 21st Annual Lecture of Ijebu Muslim College Old Students’ Association (IMCOSA) in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun. The lecture entitled, “ Influence of Social Media on Youth Education; Issues and Challenges,’’ looked at ways of checking abuse of the social media by youths. Ajia said social media could help young people and adults to access informational and educational resources far beyond what could be obtained within the school walls. He, however, said restraint must be exercised on the side of those using social media platforms because of the infiltration of false information and cyber criminals. “Social media and social networking sites provide support for individuals to communicate and engage with people of like minds and interests. “Social media spreads information faster than any other media and it has helped broaden the scope of education in the internet age as people are exposed to information beyond the conventional. “The advent of social media has seen more individuals being empowered to make social change and do social good on a community and national level. “Simply put, we have to face the reality that social media cannot be dispensed with in the modern era and depending on its use, could be a weapon for development or destruction. “Everyone is affected as the trend is gaining a foothold on every significant trade of life; so it is an issue of great concern to educational development,” Ajia said. He said rather than negate its use, parents, teachers and authorities have a responsibility in “ guiding young people navigate the minefield as well as the joys of social media and social networking.’’ Ajia, however, said the youths must assume the ultimate responsibility for the choices they make in using social media tools. “Parents should be close to their children. If they are truly friends with their children, they will even be able to befriend their children on social media and be at ease with them. “From their preteen age, the parents should endeavour to start introducing them to social media and guide them on sites to visit. “They must check against granting absolute access to the internet and social media channels by being password key holders at the home front as a form of parental control. “Their approach to parenting is also key in the internet generation. Being too strict stokes rebellion while being excessively doting render the children clueless and less tasking. “Parents must strike a balance by engaging what is regarded as ‘tough love’ in the moulding of the children’s development in the use of social media and gadgets. “Children must know that not only are rewards meted out for good behaviour but that there are also consequences for bad behaviour,” he said. Ajia also dismissed the notion that Information Technology has a negative influence on the reading culture of students. “Even for IT, you have to read, it is all about reading the right things. “Education authorities should stop being afraid of social media or the internet. “Rather than negating the use of social media outright, they can help guide the children on proper use of the social media,’’ he said.