This action research study examines the impact of social media literacy education, using a critical social media literacy paradigm, for the children in Indian contexts and reflects how it fits into the wider perspective of media literacy.
Through implementing a participatory social media literacy workshop in two high schools in Mumbai—32 participants in School A, and 29 participants in School B—the study inquires how the participants respond to the key concepts of social media literacy. To explore the impact of the workshop, the thesis analyses a diverse collection of data sets— material created by participants during the workshop activities comprising of memes, videos and charts; semi-structured interview responses of 9 participants each from both schools; pre and post-workshop survey data; feedback form responses; and the researcher’s fieldwork notes.
A reflexive thematic analysis of fieldwork data gives insights in the area of improvements which the participants make in developing social media capabilities and practices when they participate in social media literacy programmes. The findings show evidence that participatory social media literacy workshops enhance participants’ critical analysis, informed participation, resilience, creative self-expression, and citizenship.
The study proposes a critical social media literacy conceptual framework both for implementing social media education in schools and also for conducting further social media literacy research in schools in India. The framework has seven inter-related elements that the thesis diagrammatically presents as social media circuit—platform use, information access, platform knowledge, visibility management, information management, creative self-expression, and participation and citizenship. In this framework, the traditional concepts of media literacy—representation, language, audience, and production—have been adapted and integrated into the contemporary networked digital setting. While children, born in the digital age, easily develop the skills for platform use and information access, their development of other areas of the social media circuit need some form of learning, support, and mentoring.