When Facebook and other social networks were launched, little did students and parents alike know that a strong attention seeker had come to steal their reading time.

Years later, the story has changed.

While some people believe social media have helped to make socialisation and engagement with people around the world easier, educationist are insisting that it has become the cause of the decline in reading culture among Nigerians; especially those who use smart phones.

Books, which used to be students' closest companions, have now been swapped with mobile devices.

Parents Don’t Read

It is a source of concern for the Proprietor of Ife Oluwa Nursery School in Ilorin, Dare Oyeniyi, who has called a balance between both mediums of learning.

He told the News Agency of Nigeria that “one could hardly find a home now where children would be encouraged to read at least a book in a month, like it was before.

”Parents now prefer to buy smart phones for their children instead of books as gifts which will develop their reading culture.

”But it is not really the fault of the parents because you can’t give what you don’t have. They don’t read too. So, how will they encourage children to read?

”Now, social media has made it worse because everyone is now glued to their phones even at leisure times when they ought to pick a book and read,” Oyeniyi lamented.

While he praised social media broadening and improving learning standards, he advised that it doesn't replace book reading.

”Using social media to complement book reading will only make our education system to be better. It can never replace it.

”So, the earlier everyone reasons like this the better.

”It pays to read, among other things it broadens one’s knowledge,” the proprietor said.

To encourage reading of books, UNESCO has set aside March 2 as a World Book Day marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

The UN agency aims to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to own books.

If you fall in the category of people that give more attention to social media than to books, educationists are recommending moderation and adherence to a set time for reading, acknowledging that social networks have come to stay but the users must also know when to stay away and focus on their studies.

If you read this to the end; then that's a great start!