The Impact of Social Media on Literacy Skills: Positive or Negative?

Black History Month Impact of Social Media

The Impact of Social Media

The Impact of Social Media

Media literacy is defined as “the ability to access, analyze, and produce information,” the fundamental objective of which is “critical autonomy in relationship to all media” . In this definition, media literacy comprises the competencies necessary to become informed consumers of the media. To date, this remains a leading definition of media literacy, and the competencies of analysis and production have been adopted in media literacy education programs for a wide range of social issues

The Impact of Social Media

Upon hearing that social media would have a positive impact on literacy skills, I imagine the typical response would be sceptical, mistrusting and altogether unconvinced. To be perfectly honest, until recently- I would completely agree with you, dear reader. Surely, the incessant buzzing of the mobile devices we are all guilty of having practically glued to our person at all times can’t be beneficial? Or can it?

It may come as no surprise that young people rarely- if ever- pick up a book, at least not outside of school; instead opting to scroll through social media. A study by the Canadian Pediatric Society revealed that 20% of adolescents would never read a book- fiction, non-fiction or otherwise, but almost 50% will frequently read blogs. These blogs have been proven to significantly improve young people’s self confidence in regards to their own writing ability as they do not feel that they are forced into reading. Perhaps, we could conclude that it is simply the familiarity of a digital screen that provides comfort to this modern generation of youths or the quintessentially teenage reluctance to cooperate and simply ‘do what they are told’. Alternatively, we could blame the fast paced nature of the world today- we simply don’t have the time to curl up with a good book! But, a blog however is a quick fix of literary indulgence, think of it as fast food for bookworms. Either way, the results are undeniable.

The Impact of Social Media on Literacy Skills: Positive or Negative?

Of course, there are obvious downsides to social media. We all know too well the feeling of tumbling down a rabbit hole while mindlessly scrolling through instagram, facebook or twitter; only to return to reality when a dear family member tugs our attention away from our trance, and the time that we treasure so greatly has ticked away. Yes, social media reduces boredom and the constant necessity for stimulation but does that equilibrate the guaranteed social isolation that is sure to come from these devices. Can we afford to pay such a price?   

Social media literacy refers to the acquaintance, adoption, and productive use of social media technology in any given setting. Even though this term may appear alien, it is more familiar in our lives than we realise. We are constantly clinging to our phones, instead of demonising this ‘unhealthy’ relationship, we should learn to accept that they are now a vital part of our lives. In fact, Nick Sousanis claims social media platforms are beneficial for students learning and collaborating, strengthening the ‘sense of community in a classroom’ by making learning multimodal (Sousanis, 2012 article).

I am forced to admit, after doing further research on the impact of social media on literacy skills- I am certain that the positive effects outweigh the negative and strongly believe we can use it as leverage in advancing reading and writing skills, therefore producing a generation of confident writers equipped for the new, innovative digital age.

Author: Eva Murphy
Age: 16
Location: England

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I am a 16 year old student from England with an enthusiasm for languages. I have always has a love of reading and writing and I am passionate about education. Next year, I hope to continue my studies in college and ultimately travel the world. 


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