South African youth and mobile technology impact: the MXit phenomenon.

Francke, E. & Weideman, M.

Proceedings of The 9th Annual Conference on WWW Applications. 4-7 September. Johannesburg, South Africa.

Francke, E. & Weideman, M. 2007. South African youth and mobile technology impact: the MXit phenomenon. Proceedings of The 9th Annual Conference on WWW Applications. 4-7 September. Johannesburg, South Africa. Online:

In this research project, an empirical study has been done to determine the extent to which the youth is making use of MXit, and its effect on them. The purpose of the study was to indicate to parents, employers as well as other relevant stakeholders the level of usage as well as the impact of MXit on its users. A literature survey has revealed that not much has been written about the topic, as it is a relatively new phenomenon. Much of the information that is available on the topic, is to be found in newspaper articles both in printed and electronic format. These articles cite instances where children have fallen prey to pedophiles who enter chatrooms and arrange meetings with their innocent victims after extracting confidential information from them via MXit. These articles also refer to interviews with stakeholders like social workers, educationists, children, parents as well as the management of MXit. This research illustrates the problems that incorrect usage of MXit can create for its users. Since the target market of MXit is the youth, the researcher has conducted a survey of a number of school going as well as working youth by means of a questionnaire. The sample consisted of a number of primary school learners, as well as high school learners, higher education learners and young working people. The research methodology included a survey of relevant literature, personal interviews with relevant stakeholders including social workers, parents as well as educationists. The demographic results indicated that MXit is expanding at a tempo of between 9 000 and 12 000 new registered users daily aged mainly between 12 and 25 years old. The popular instant messaging service is likely to increase dramatically as they spread their wings and the intention is to have 50-million customers internationally by the end of 2008. As a conclusion, the study has shown that incorrect usage of mobile technology and in particular the MXit application, has a negative impact on users in relation to their personal safety, their emotional well-being as well as to their productivity at work, school and play. Furthermore the research has also highlighted the role that parents have to play in understanding and monitoring their children's mobile technology usage.
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