Social media tax and lifestyle patterns of Ugandan youth

Miriam N. KATUNZE, Uchechi Shirley ANADUAKA, Getrude Dadirai GWENZI

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


The introduction of social media enhanced globalisation by presenting opportunities for communication, collaboration, transaction from the comfort of one’s phone. It is unimaginable the effects of a restriction on social media to a burgeoning population of a developing economy. Drawing on a recent tax policy charged on popular social media sites, we assess the effects of such a tax on lifestyle patterns such as frequency of social media visits per day, physical interactions, sleep patterns, non-social media interactions, consumption behaviour, mental health, etc. Taking Uganda as a case study, we used a mixed methods approach to on a qualitative sample of approximately 119 social media-using youth. Conceptually, the study follows the social control, social impact and consumption-expenditure smoothing theories. Preliminary results from the qualitative survey indicate varied responses on sleep patterns with some sleeping less and others more. For most youth, the number of hours per day on social media has reduced greatly, from 24 hours to 30 minutes-5 hours per day. A number of youth indicated to have increased non-social media interaction such as the use of phone calls and SMSs but very few indicated increased physical interactions. While the social media tax initially increased undesirable moods such as depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, such emotions were substantially reduced with the realisation that the tax would not be removed. More so, the effects of the tax on consumption lifestyles increased expenditure out of a necessity to stay online. A number of youth have adjusted to these consumption changes by regularly or/and occasionally foregoing lunch, snacks, motorcycle rides, children’s snacks, beverages etc. The results have tremendous social and economic implications individually, nationally and regionally. The research has implications on other Sub Saharan African countries that are preparing
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
EventPostgraduate Conference on Interdiscplinary Learning : Positioning the Young Scholar for Academic Excellence - Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Duration: 29 Mar 201930 Mar 2019 (Conference website)

Public Lecture

Public LecturePostgraduate Conference on Interdiscplinary Learning : Positioning the Young Scholar for Academic Excellence
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
OtherWith support from the University Grants Committee, Lingnan University successfully held the Postgraduate Conference on Interdisciplinary Learning on 29 to 30 March 2019. With a firm conviction to positioning the young academic scholars for excellence, the Conference brought together over 100 speakers and participants not only from Lingnan University but also other local universities like University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, City University of Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Baptist University. Overseas speakers and postgraduate students from University of Bristol, University of York, National University of Singapore, Fu Jen Catherine University of Taiwan, Central China Normal University and University of Shanghai for Science & Technology in China also joined the conference.
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