Most existing scholarship that measures the impact of the Internet on civic or political engagement focuses on political uses of new media. Drawing on two large panel studies, we find that youth engagement in nonpolitical online participatory cultures may serve as a gateway to participation in important aspects of civic and political life, including volunteering, community problem-solving, protest activities, and political voice. These relationships remain statistically significant for both datasets, even with controls for prior levels of civic and political participation and a full range of demographic variables. While politically driven online participation is clearly worthy of attention, these findings indicate that it should not be seen as the only relevant bridge from online activity to civic and political engagement.
Social media are changing how youth involve themselves in politics. Educators also must change how they prepare students to be involved citizens.
In the past decade, young libertarians in the U.S., or members of the Liberty Movement as it is called, have utilized new media and technology along with more traditional modes of organizing to grow their movement, capitalizing on the participatory nature of the internet in particularly savvy and creative ways.
“How do Boston-area youth (15–25) reason about ethical dilemmas occurring within virtual worlds such as ‘World of Warcraft’?”; and “Which considerations seem to shape their ethical responses?” In semi-structured interviews 27 young people were presented with an ethical dilemma: subjects were asked to imagine that they had been playing an online multiplayer game of around 30,000 players for two weeks.
To what extent are young Americans engaged in civic life today? Where can they learn the skills they need to be civically active? We believe that young people are engaging with civic issues in places that may surprise those researching more established sites of civic learning.
To rigorously consider the impact of new media on the political and civic behavior of young people, The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) developed and fielded one of the first nationally representative studies of new media and politics among young people.
Can media literacy education promote and improve youth engagement in civic and political life? Unfortunately, to date, there have been almost no quantitative assessments of the frequency or possible impacts of media literacy education. This study draws on a unique panel data set of a diverse group of youth in high school and college settings. It finds that exposure to media literacy education is not strongly related to demographic variables. In addition, with controls for prior levels of online political activities, for political interest, and for a broad range of demographic variables, this study also finds that digital media literacy education is associated with increased online political engagement and increased exposure to diverse perspectives.
Over the last decade, undocumented youth have participated in immigrant rights activism in unprecedented numbers, defying stereotypes of youth—especially immigrant youth—as politically powerless. This case study of DREAM Activism, or mobilization for the passing of the DREAM Act, traces young people’s use of new media to foster participatory forms of political engagement.
The Working Group on Service & Activism in the Digital Age brought together researchers, policy advocates, and practitioners from each field to address the question, “How does the integration of digital media tools and practices support, transform, or challenge what we consider to be best practice in Service learning and Youth-Led Organizing?”
Some see the Internet as a means of exposure to divergent perspectives, while others believe that it is likely to foster echo chambers. We agree that it is important to attend to these possibilities, but we find that this discussion is often framed inappropriately. Drawing on a unique panel survey of the online practices of youth (ages 16–21) and on their civic and political engagement, we find that most youth are not consistently exposed to echo chambers or divergent perspectives. Rather, we find that most youth are exposed to views that align with and diverge from their own, or they are exposed to neither. We also find that political interest, particular forms of online participation, and digital media literacy education can promote greater exposure to these diverse perspectives.
The youngest generations participate the least in civic life, with a full 55 percent of those under thirty recently judged as civically and politically “disengaged’ in a report by the National Conference on Citizenship. Close to two- thirds (64 percent) of young adults aged 18-29 say that they are “not at all” interested in campaign news. Judged by traditional measures, current levels of youth civic knowledge and participation are problematic. We argue that civic educators’ ability to address this situation productively requires increased attention to the civic and political dimensions of digital media.
As political engagement moves online, candidates are more frequently relying on the Internet to share information and mobilize voters (Herrnson et al. 2007), and Internet recruitment is particularly likely to target youth (under 25) for varied forms of civic and political participation (Rock the Vote, 2008; Schlozman et al, 2010). This study draws on panel survey data of 436 youth surveyed in high school (ages 16-17) and following the 2008 election (ages 19-22) to examine whether and under what conditions recruitment in general and internet recruitment specifically encourage participation in varied civic and political activities
For most people, political equality today means formal political rights, such as the right to vote. This is a regrettably limited view. The right to vote is not an end but a means. It is, in fact, only one means, if a critical one, by which to enable each “individual to share in those social decisions determining the quality and direction of his life,” as the Port Huron Statement describes the end of politics.