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RESEARCH / NEWS: UNICEF study explores the social networking habits of young people

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

11 October, Pretoria - Ask the parent of the average South African teenager what their child gets up to in the evenings, and many will tell you that their sons or daughters are probably typing away on their cellphones, on South Africa’s largest social network – MXit.

And it comes as no surprise. A recent survey conducted by UNICEF in partnership with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, MXit, and the University of Cape Town, revealed that 30 per cent of MXit users admitted to spending most of their after-school time socialising on the platform. 25,876 South African youths recently took part in the survey, which looked at how young people interact on the social media platform.

"The rise of the mobile internet in South Africa means that more people, especially youth, are using social networks as key tools in their identity formation. This timely report provides an important piece of the puzzle to understanding the formation of mobile youth cultures; and exploring the role that cellphone applications play in the lives of young South Africans," says Dr Tanja Bosch, senior lecturer in the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town.

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