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Like the two sides of a coin, social media can help overcome illiteracy as well as can be a cause for illiteracy. The prime aspect which determines the impact is how effectively and efficiently one uses social media or in simple words, the impact depends upon the choice of the individual. The major positive aspect of social media is that it is multimodal and thus can use the combination of these more than two modes to create a meaning.
If a question is raised to the Xennials, Gen X or the Baby Boomer Generation regarding the impact of social media over illiteracy their response to the question would be in a swift and would be negative. Whereas if the same question is raised to the Gen Z or to the Gen Alpha then the response would be reversed with a positive one while the Millennials would have a mixed opinion regarding this question. This difference in opinion is because of the distinct perception of different age group of people.
Social media can be effectively used to overcome the problem of illiteracy but it all depends upon how it is utilized. Social media can also be used in classrooms to enhance literacy, but the meaning of the term literacy differs from each person. To some people literacy refers to just the ability to read and write, whereas if we look deeply to the meaning of literacy then it can be defined as the competency or knowledge in a specific field. Suzanne Plaut has once said, literacy “is making meaning from text by reading, writing and speaking”
Consider a situation where an educator or a teacher finds an article in Facebook related to what she was teaching her students in class and posts the same with a question in her class group. In this case the students will read the content and would express their views regarding what the answer to her question would be. This can help the teacher to engage the students with her subject and can help in creating more interest for her subject.
YouTube is another example of a social media site that can help overcome the problem of illiteracy, but it all depends upon what you are watching in it. YouTube gives an opportunity to learn anything by sitting at our convenient places with just a laptop or smartphone with a decent speed internet connection.
All these above situations clearly portray how social media can help overcome the issue of illiteracy. Thus, if there is a will to learn and write to become literate, then social media is a great platform that could reduce the number of illiterates due to lack of infrastructure or access to schools or colleges for the aspiring literates.