Study Suggests That The Internet Makes Youth 'More Engaged Citizens'

from the that's-a-good-thing,-right? dept

Following on our recent post discussing Clay Shirky's views concerning social media's role in helping to politicize people who were formerly not all that interested in politics, Shocklee points us to news of a recent study that has found, indeed, that high school students who use the internet to research key interests "were more likely to become involved in 'civic and political issues.'" And it appears that this greater involvement goes beyond just posting about it online, but really becoming more involved in certain causes. This seems to counter the claims of some that online interest in civil and political issues is more just people screaming in front of their computers. It actually does seem to have a real impact.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2011 @ 4:19am

    Makes some sense. Without the Internet, the only opinions you get to hear come from TV, books and other people close to you.

    In the Internet, you can engage/listen to other people from across the globe, who have totally different opinions and live in totally different realities. You get to see how much better/much worse the world is, far away from where you live.

    This makes you more informed, and information is power.

    Politicians learn this quickly. That is why they try to shut down the Internet: to dumb people down so that they just shut up and accept the lies they feed them.

     

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    mike allen (profile), Mar 17th, 2011 @ 4:23am

    that can only be a good thing.

     

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    Josef Anvil (profile), Mar 17th, 2011 @ 4:36am

    Score one for the DUH column

    I'm not really sure why it takes a "study" to figure out that a communications platform that exposes everyone to the views and opinions of people around the globe would have an impact on how people act and think.

    DUH is the only comment that really comes to mind.

    Maybe when people stop thinking of the internet as a small TV screen and more like a BIG smartphone, things will start making more sense.

     

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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Mar 17th, 2011 @ 5:00am

    Call me old-fashioned...

    but after having dealt with the youth of America (including the teenager I'm raising), the last thing I would want today's youth to get involved with is politics. If the subtle nuances of conversational techniques escape them, I can only imagine the damage that could be done with a few online petitions, a mass of forwarded texts and several "If you agree to X, post as your status" updates on Facebook.

    (Actually, those all would be highly ineffective. As you were, youth of today.)

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2011 @ 5:27am

    Re: Score one for the DUH column

    There's a huge gulf between "knowing" something and having demonstrable proof. You do know that, right?

     

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  6.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Mar 17th, 2011 @ 5:41am

    One of the most crowdsourced projects to date is gameful.com. Apparently its popular to peoples idea of idealism as well.

     

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    abc gum, Mar 17th, 2011 @ 5:50am

    Re: Call me old-fashioned...

    It really depends upon the particular youth ... stereotypical knee jerk reactions should be avoided.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2011 @ 6:39am

    Techdirt alone has certainly politicized me and I thank you for it. I just cant help but feel like Im "that guy" when I talk to uninformed friends about 4th amendment issues.

     

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  9.  
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    Vigo, Mar 17th, 2011 @ 6:39am

    Re:

    Sure the internet *can* expose youth to different idea's and views, but your average teenager is spoonfed what political beliefs to have more than ever.

    Facebook shows political ads of whatever view it thinks you will hold, as well as filtering out political posts from friends it thinks you will disagree with based on what comments you have "liked" in the past. Pretty much giving any dumb teenager the impression that the whole world agrees with their ill formed political views. Not much exposure to different views there.

    At least when kids didn't get told by their peers what to believe on social media every day, they actually had to form their OWN opinion once in a while.

     

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    fogbugzd (profile), Mar 17th, 2011 @ 7:17am

    Study rings true

    As someone who works with college-aged students every day, this study rings true to me. The students may not be political in the traditional sense, but they know a lot more about what is going on now than they did 20 years ago. And they care about it. Today's students will also take action under the right circumstances.

    I don't think most people understand today's youth. For one thing, they are pretty much off the radar of most polling systems.

    There is also a tendency to put down young people that gets in the way of understanding them. Frankly, we even see that in some of the comments already posted in this thread. I have worked with young people my entire career, and the generation that is emerging is different than the others. Most of them are not interested in some of the traditional hot-button issues, and they are an independent bunch of people who are not going to be easy to herd into one of the traditional liberal or conservative labels.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2011 @ 7:22am

    While it is wonderful that students (and young people) are becoming more political, it is also more than slightly dangerous. One of the problems of youth is being easily swayed by people making wonderful claims, pushing utopia, or otherwise spouting off a point of view that sounds good. Many of these people are suggesting courses of action that are illegal or immoral, but in making them sound good, it is easier to get impressionable youth to join the cause.

    It is great that they are better informed. We just hope that they are in fact better informed, and not more easily mislead.

     

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    John M. Hoyt, Mar 17th, 2011 @ 7:32am

    Engaged Youth

    I have two children, one 16 year old boy and an 18 year old girl... They both are "engaged citizens". Obviously it is due to the internet. I can see that, and appreciate it ;)

     

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    The eejit (profile), Mar 17th, 2011 @ 10:52am

    Re:

    You mean like the American Bible Belt?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2011 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re:

    Actually, a perfect example. Have ever run across someone in their early teens, example, and a "true believer" of whatever religion that their parents jammed down their throats? They feel remarkably informed and totally convinced they are right.

    People who are exposed to only one point of view often think they are informed, when they are not.

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:44am

    Re: Study rings true

    "Most of them are not interested in some of the traditional hot-button issues, and they are an independent bunch of people who are not going to be easy to herd into one of the traditional liberal or conservative labels."

    Yeah isn't it great. A generation of people who are going to shock the crap out of the political system in a couple years. People that believe global warming is happening, politicians are corrupt, that monopolies rule the political system and need to be taken down a notch or removed. And thats the view point of my friends 12 year old.

    What most people do not understand is this generation is a profound change from previous ones. They can actually quickly find like minded individuals to connect with. That allows for the rapid growth of ideas, and speedy concensus, and rapid implementation. I think politicians the world over are just beginning to see what is happening in the world of communication. You just gotta love the Party Of We, Anonymous, Chinese human flesh search engines, flash crowds, recent government collapses, Critical mass. By the time they actually understand, it will be to late ... their world will have changed.

    and to quote Anonymous ...

    "We are Anonymous,
    We are Legion,
    We do not forgive,
    We do not forget,
    Expect us."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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