Tshwane University of Technology (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN14 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Page: 6135 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-617-0557-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 7-9 July, 2014
Location: Barcelona, Spain
To many people the internet is synonymous with social media; to such people the internet is all about connecting with people, creating, sharing, or exchanging information and ideas. Social media is the interaction among people in virtual communities and networks in which they create, share, or exchange information and ideas. The use of social media provides a platform for millions of people to be connected and many people are taking advantage of the publicity that social media create. Social media are of different forms like magazines, Internet forums, social blogs, wikis, social networks, podcasts, photographs or pictures and video.

Many Internet users spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site. With the proliferation of smart phones, tablets, personal computers and wireless communication technology many people today have access to the internet and the facilities it offers (including the social media) than ever before. In South Africa for example, almost every university student owns a smart phone or a personal computer and has access to the internet. Some studies have shown that the social media can be effectively utilized for educational purposes. Students can use social sites to research; Social media provides relevant and reliable information, which students can use to research more on their assignments and projects. Students can get online tutorial classes on topics of interest to them.

This study explores how university students have adopted Facebook (one of the social media) in their social life and academic pursuits using data from a random sample of 200 students from two South African universities.

It was found from the study that almost all the students (99%) know about Facebook and 92% identified it as a social media. Majority of the students (88%) said that they use Facebook, 82% use it to connect with friends and relatives, 9% use it to look for job and bursary advertisements, 20% used it catch news of happenings around the world while only 8% use it for academic purposes like study groups discussions. Greater proportion of the participants (70%) spend more than one hour on Facebook every day while 45% spend over two hours on it daily. Half of the students did not see Facebook valuable to their studies but majority (85%) found it useful for socializing and making friends.

Discussion and conclusion:
The findings of this study shows that majority of university students see Facebook as a tool for socializing and making friends and connecting with old friends while only a small percentage see it as a tool for their studies. The findings seem to suggest that if the students can be encouraged to use Social media as an educational tool, the students will likely engage more in materials that will help them to learn more, they will become more informed and knowledgeable in their professions. This can be achieved if course materials are made available through the social media, academic discussion forums and online tutorial classes are created by faculty members and students are made to join and participate in the forums and classes.
Facebook, Social media, South Africa.