Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Education




Zhang, Zheng


This study is a systematic literature review (SLR) that intended to understand the reported views and experiences of teachers and students about using social media in elementary and secondary classrooms in existent literature. This SLR also explored the pertaining challenges in using social media in classroom settings and implications of using social media in education. A total of 40 articles were included for the SLR and thematic data analysis was implemented. Reported findings show that using social media in classrooms was positively and negatively perceived by teachers and students, where positive perceptions overweighed negative ones. Social media was viewed as an important and useful tool for teaching and learning that facilitated assessment and feedback, increased students ‘motivation and engagement, and allowed students to acquire some of the core media literacy social skills and cultural competencies. Yet, students’ distraction was reported as one of the common drawbacks, along with other challenges such as unclear policies and guidelines. Findings will contribute to the literature in the field of social media and education and help understand the relationship between using social media in class and other educational outcomes.

Summary for Lay Audience

Today, social media platforms are widely distributed among children, youth, and adults. While social media were mainly created for social purposes such as users’ interaction, communication, and sharing personal stories, social media have recently entered the field of education as tools for learning and teaching. Despite the wide distribution of social media users around the world, using social media within education systems remains a debatable subject.

Based on my literature search, I have not found a systematic literature review that summarizes the existing literature related to the use of social media in education. Additionally, I wanted to understand the experiences and perceptions of teachers and students regarding this matter. For that reason, I have reviewed 40 peer-reviewed articles related to the use of social media within classrooms as learning and teaching tools. Articles were selected based on specific inclusion criteria. Additionally, these reviewed articles where “thematically” analyzed through the theoretical lenses known as “social constructivism” and “new media literacies”.

After conducting a thorough analysis of selected articles, I reported findings through different themes (i.e., inductive and deductive). I found that teachers and students had positive feedbacks about using social media within classrooms and I included examples of affordances by social media as reported by reviewed articles. Nevertheless, there were some negative perceptions reported by users of social media in classrooms such as distraction from learning.

Findings of this SLR could help researchers interested in the field of social media and education to further research about the use of social media in primary grades with regards to reasons for limited use of social media in their classrooms, potential concerns of parents or teachers to incorporate social media at such beginner grades, or infrastructure needed to incorporate social media use in early learning. Future research could look at the impacts of different social media sites (i.e., popular SNS and enclosed social sites) to understand optimal learning via social media. Policy makers and education stakeholders will benefit from this study by understanding the relationship between the use of social media in classrooms and educational outcomes.