For some people social media does not detract from education – it is education
We found that many schools in our fieldsites recognise that social media simultaneously assists informal learning as well as being a distraction from formal education. Often it mainly benefits low income families with poor prospects in formal education.
With limited access to formal schooling, many people turn to social media, and particularly YouTube videos, as an important source of education.
Although people often complain about social media as a threat to education, this film shows how it has become a hugely valuable asset for communication between parents, teachers, and pupils in a primary school.
Social media is often regarded as a distraction, so parents try to prevent children from using social media, which they feel distracts from homework.
Here again we see people worrying that social media and other online activities can become a distraction from education for a young child.
The situation for factory workers is similar to the experiences identified in our Brazilian fieldsite, rather than those observed in rural China. Here people expect to work in factories and have less interest in formal education, and they turn to social media as a source of information and practical knowledge.
A contradiction can be seen in the fact that, even though most adults see social media as impeding formal education, they still mostly encourage their children to be on social media and adopt new technology, in order to be like everyone else.