A study of young people's use of social media for social capital in Mthatha, Eastern Cape





Social media, Social capital, Youth, Horizontal communication, Online communication


The concept of social capital is gaining popularity in a context where young people are facing increasing social and economic challenges. In the same vein, social media use by this group has become pervasive. This study seeks to understand whether these social technologies now provide new opportunities for the youth in semi-rural areas to access social capital, especially since social capital is a necessity for personal and social development. A mixed- methods research design was used in this study with 331 questionnaires distributed to students in high schools and two tertiary institutions in Mthatha in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. Focus groups were conducted with the same target group. The results show that social media tools are embedded in the everyday lives of young people and that these tools are an important source of social capital. They are not being used only for dating and play, but for other everyday tasks such as learning and helping others, and are a source of personal benefits.The study concludes that social mediaapplications are an important resource for social capital and that it is important to make policy reconsiderations to ensure inclusive youth development.


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