Could social media be a learning platform for your kids?


Meet the teachers of TikTok

We all learn differently. For kids born in the internet era, a significant proportion of education now takes place through a screen. This goes beyond the Zoom lessons of the pandemic—or even the legendary BBC Bitesize—with a myriad of online tools and platforms available to students young and old to dip into at will. With answers a mere tap or click away though, quality and trust are vital.

Enter EE LearnSmart, which gives access to a network of inspirational and expert mentors who kids will recognise and admire. In snackable video lessons, they’ll pick up new skills and earn rewards en route.

Among that number are two ‘Teachers of TikTok’, Holly & Manny, who have each used social media to build up sizable followings with education content that truly resonates with children. We spoke to them to find out how they’re using their feeds to drive a passion for learning.

How to turn scrolling into schooling


If you had to guess, which phrase do you think you’ve used most since becoming a parent?  “Could you PLEASE put that phone DOWN?” is likely to top the list.

“Mindless scrolling is the negative part of social media,” says Holly McLoughlin, otherwise known as @the_caffeinatedreader, whose TikTok reviews of inclusive literature have amassed nearly three million likes. But, says Holly, there’s a whole other side to children’s screen time—one that can unlock their imaginations and open up entire worlds of learning. From apps and platforms that can excite every type of learner to new relatable role models, there’s so much to discover beyond the classroom.

When you look at science, it can look quite daunting. Everybody learns in different ways, I’m trying to make it a bit more flexible, a bit more digestible and accessible

Manny Wallace AKA @bigmanny.1

Supercharge screen time


“When you look at science, it can look quite daunting. Everybody learns in different ways, I’m trying to make it a bit more flexible, a bit more digestible and accessible,” says Manny Wallace, or @big.manny1 on TikTok, where he has 1.7 million followers. Manny has a master’s degree in biomedical science, and devotes himself to bringing science alive for young people. In snappy videos, he uses language kids respect to explain the sort of phenomena that are usually confined to laboratories.

The Covid-19 pandemic propelled the world’s children into learning online and created resources like Oak National Academy, where the UK school syllabus is broken down into free video lessons delivered by real teachers. Holly and Manny, however, are different. They are part of a new and growing wave of TikTok teachers, taking school subjects onto social media and shaking up the way they’re taught. Employing all the tricks in the influencer handbook—music, text to speech narration, filters, effects and more—they engage increasing numbers of kids with educational content in a fun and familiar format, using the hashtag #learnontiktok.

The teachers of TikTok:


  • Swatting up on Spanish? @spanishteacher makes short videos matching spoken words with images (great for visual learners and those struggling with pronunciation).
  • Studying medicine or biology? NHS surgeon Dr Karan Raj is your man.
  • Doing a history module on World War II? Joe Allington was a normal 87-year-old from Lichfield before his videos sharing wartime childhood rationing recipes went viral on Tiktok. Who better to learn from, than a man who was there?
  • Looking to learn more about black history and cultural identity? Kayne Kawasaki is a thought leader on this topic.
  • Frightened by physics? @thephysicsgirl sets short experiments to music. Relativity just got relatable.
  • Want to practice techniques to protect your mental health? Dr Alex George regularly posts to the platform, including ways to reduce your screen time.
  • Fancy learning the piano? Myleene Klass posts music klasses (pun intended!).


There are lots of potential benefits to this new breed of teacher. Some, like Manny, are bringing fresh kudos to their content. Others, like Holly, encourage their followers to step away from the screen and experience something new in the real world: “seeing what everybody else is reading makes me put my phone down and go and pick up a book.”


Manny Wallace performing a chemistry experiment

Kick-start their community


Whatever your kids’ current passion, and however niche it may be, they’ll find a community of people to explore it with online. Take Outschool—an online learning platform where young people can pick from thousands of live classes, in subjects that range far beyond the confines of the school curriculum. Book a class in forensic science, marine biology, or animal psychology, and (for somewhere between £5 and £15) your child will join a small class of fellow enthusiasts, from different corners of the globe, to discuss the subject.

Outschool’s huge and creative catalogue of classes also means you can help your child with subjects they find tough, by approaching them via ones they love. Do they find economics perplexing but love gaming? Maybe try an ‘Understanding Money through Minecraft’ class. Got a bookworm who struggles with science? How about a Harry Potter Themed Chemistry course?

Elsewhere there’s Udemy, the world’s largest online learning platform, with thousands of courses designed especially for young people, covering every niche imaginable. Or TED-Ed—the younger cousin of the cult online talk company. Free animated shorts, delivered by world experts and teachers across the globe, explore big and pressing issues that are directly relevant to young people’s lives. Talks include, ‘What really happens to the plastic you throw away?’ and ‘what happens to your brain when you watch video games?’ (spoiler: some pretty positive things, according to cognitive researcher Daphne Bavelier, who delivers this talk). Whatever your kids’ burning question, there’s guaranteed to be a TED-Ed talk to explore it.

The new school toolkit


The online world is filled with opportunities to spark your child’s imagination. It’s teaching them how to navigate through the negative or distracting stuff that’s the challenge. But don’t panic. EE have put together lots of tools to help.


  • EE LearnSmart is a good place to start. This brilliant tool from EE gives kids access to a network of inspiring mentors – experts with real world experience that can help your kids better navigate their way through school and life.
  • PhoneSmart Licence, developed with expert charities including the Anti Bullying Alliance and Childnet International, is an interactive and educational course designed to give kids aged 10-13 the skills they need to stay safe and happy online.
  • WiFi Controls for EE broadband is also a great way to make sure they’re staying sensible online. You can set content filters and even freeze or pause the WiFi to chosen devices if their curiosity goes beyond bedtime.


Looking for a student-friendly tablet or laptop to set them off on their journey? EE’s pay monthly options start at £11 a month and come with the option of cyber security to give you added peace of mind.

The way we learn is changing, and fast. Online, education is becoming ever accessible, varied and interactive. Whether your child wants to revise for their fractions test the following day, or break away from the curriculum and explore a passion for coding, there’s a talk, TikTok video, class or community for that. Help them find it, and you could spark a life-long love for learning. So maybe, sometime soon, you’ll find yourself asking them to: “pick that phone UP.”

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