You may already use social media for making contact with others, keeping them informed, meeting, planning and doing things together. However, social media are also an important tool for political literacy.
There has been a lot of coverage in the media about the way in which online social media and social networks are changing the way in which citizens interact with political bodies.
Social media and people power
An example of the power of social media is the part they are known to have played in organising and mobilising the pro-democracy movements behind the 'Arab Spring' uprisings. At the Guardian's 2011 Activate summit, Hillary Clinton's senior adviser, Alec Ross, spoke on how social networks devolve power to individuals and small institutions.
- Social media: Facebook and twitter enables people power
This BBC video looks at how social media have enabled people power, giving new powers to people who previously engaged very little with politics.
- YouTube: Social Media Revolution 2011
This video clip is crammed with facts which illustrate the growing power of social media.
- Mandela Story
This video, by South African agency Prezence Digital, asks: would Nelson Mandela have spent 27 years in captivity if he had access to the same technology, social media platforms and tools as we do today?
Following Parliament on social media
Recognising this change, politicians are now using social media (such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) to win the loyalty and trust of voters.
They also analyse what people have been saying about them online - see this recent Ipsos MORI report, which looked at the use of social media during the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary Election campaign.
You can use social media to keep up to date with political events and policies, and to engage learners.
- UK Parliament - RSS and social media
Subscribe to RSS feeds and follow Parliament on Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook and Friendfeed.
- UK Parliament - YouTube
The official YouTube channel for the UK Parliament.
- Scottish Parliament on Twitter
View the Scottish Parliament Twitter feed and/or follow the Scottish Parliament on Twitter.
- Scottish Parliament on Facebook
Keep up with parliamentary news via the Scottish Parliament's Facebook page.
Using social media to develop political literacy
These links show examples of some social studies departments which use Twitter to link with learners: