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African Youths and the Dangers of Social Networking: a Culture-Centered Approach to using Social Media by Philip Ephraim (Term Paper Sample)


The task was to debate on culture-centered approach to combating the dangers of social media to African youths as suggested by the article and propose a better counter argument based on facts.

“African Youths and the Dangers of Social Networking: a Culture-centered Approach to using Social Media” by Philip Ephraim
According to Philip Ephraim, the approach to ensuring that ethical considerations and standards in terms of virtues of honesty, respect for human dignity, compassion, loyalty; the right to life, the right to freedom from injury, and the right to privacy in the use of social media can be solved through the use of culture-centered approach. This is an approach that I completely disagree with and as such in this paper; I will argue that the best approach towards addressing dangers of social media use in pluralistic environment is through the development of discourse ethics as a measure of enhancing communication on social media and avoiding potential dangers.
Arguments for the Culture-Centered Approach
It is imperative to note that with the emergence of social media or social networking sites, communication has become faster and more accessible to people in the whole world. Philip Ephraim while addressing this noted that the population with the highest penetration in terms of social media use is the African Youths more so the adolescents who with the freedom abruptly acquired in university or college seek to open their wings and explore from the absence of their parents.
Moreover, he noted that “adolescents in Africa use social networks for a variety of purposes ranging from interpersonal connection to entertainment to research (Ephraim, 2013, p. xx).” Therefore it is important to point out that social media use has impacted greatly on the African Youth due to connectivity using cellular devices thus the penetration is even in rural Africa as the devices are cheap and readily available. Hence he opined that “social networks provide almost everything to satisfy youngsters’ curiosity to explore; ranging from chatting to blogging, uploading and exchange of videos and sound files, wall posts, online games, to sharing pictures etc. (Ephraim, 2013, p. xx).” This is also to notably include violence and harassment against women and children.
With the expansive breakthrough in terms of social media use among the African Youth, comes the dangers that are associated with the usage of social media and particularly, some African nations have begun experiencing this. The danger is cyber bullying which Philip asserts that occurs through the following means; “‘flaming, harassment, denigration, impersonation, outing, trickery, exclusion, cyber stalking and happy slapping’ (Ephraim, 2013, p. xx).” Cyber bullying is simply bullying using electronic means and in the means proscribed above. Therefore the intent is to harass, terrorize or simply humiliate the victims of the bullying using electronic means such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and WhatsApp among others.
According to Philip therefore, the way forward towards tackling cyber bullying and a safer use of social media among the African Youth is the use of the culture-centered approach. “The culture-centered Approach recognizes that all world cultures are important and contain valuable norms which in years past served as regulators and determiners of interpersonal, social-economic and political interactions (Ephraim, 2013, p. xx).” The emphasis therefore according to Philip is the propagation of culture as a means to controlling and combating cyber bullying and ensuring safe use of social media.
The cultured-centered approach is based on the following ground rules; recognizing that social media is for information exchange and communication and no propagation of violence and harassment based on sex, gender, race etc., exercise of care and caution when posting any information, use of social media has legal ramifications and finally that people should consider that other users are also human who are susceptible to feelings and being hurt just as us.
Therefore, the base for the culture-centered approach is the family which should give people values and morals on how to relate, the school and government agencies which should inculcate in people through training the safe use of social media. Additionally, according to Philip, this approach also calls on religious organizations which should teach people good morals based on the cultural orientation and finally the use of mass media to sensitize people on the safe use of social media through the various media such as radio, TV, print media among others.
Discourse Ethics in Combating Dangers of Social Media
As Philip aptly opined, social network use is greatly beneficial in terms of communication and information exchange and on the flip side carries dangers with it which the users may breach and result in cyber bullying. Contrary to his solution to the dangers of social media, I believe that culture-centered approach would not best deal with this problem thus I propose discourse ethics which “is a communication-centered moral framework, which can be employed by a group of individuals or by organizations to develop and challenge ethical standards ("Ethics in Public Relations - Discourse ethics," n.d.).”
First and foremost, culture seems to be vanishing quickly with the emergence of social media thus it is utterly impractical to propose that culture be a remedy to its adversary and this is supported by his assertions, “age old customs, traditions and social institutions which were once deeply revered seem to be disappearing in today’s age of the new media and social media do not recognize traditional set ups of age, gender or religion (Ephraim, 2013, p. xx).” The question therefore remains that how can religion for instance come in and regulate the social media use yet according to Philip, social media does not recognize religion.
The inherent problem with cyber bullying as has seen above takes various forms thus the solutions should be those based on ethical considerations. And this considerations as to doing what is right may not be mandated by the society in terms of religion and family, but by the use of acceptable standards in a pluralistic environment. Accordingly, cyber bullying takes place in different phases and these are the intentionality, repetition, imbalance of power, anonymity, and the aspect of whether it is public or private. These factors would determine how the behaviors of people are controlled on social media.
“The literature on cyberbullying illustrates that there are a variety of terms for the phenomenon depending on which acts are considered in the definition, such as Internet harassment, online harassment, and online bullying, or on cultural aspects, such as cyber mobbing in Germany, virtual- or cyberbullying in Italy, harassment or harassment via Internet or mobile phone in Spain (Menesini et al., 2012, p. xx).” This shows that there is one way in which this can be defined across all the different cultures thus accepting a culturally-oriented approach may be disingenuous to say the least.
Thus in order to control the effects of harassment and violence against women and children, and with the fact that in social media there exist a conflicting moral values that people subscribe to, there needs to be a communication-centered framework which all the individuals using a social media should subscribe to. This would enable the people to define the ethical standards of use in the social medial platform.
Furthermore, with the employment of discourse ethics, “the rightness of a norm is established through active communication between willing participants who a...
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