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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mills College Professor Joseph Kahne Authors Study on Impact of Digital Media on Youth Civic Participation

Business Wire writes, "Youth who pursue their interests on the Internet are more likely to be engaged in civic and political issues, according to a new study of student Internet usage by a group of civic learning scholars. Youth who use the Internet are also more likely to be exposed to diverse political viewpoints, the study shows."

The study’s findings run counter to two commonly held assumptions: first, that the Internet makes exposure to divergent political viewpoints (the so-called “echo chamber” effect) unlikely; and second, that the Internet promotes shallow activism (so called “slacktivism”) among youth.

The study results were announced today by a new research network, Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP), which plans to further examine the ways in which the Internet and digital media are impacting democratic and political engagement, particularly among youth.

The formation of the YPP research network and the announcement of the study’s findings come in the wake of numerous high-profile uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East in which digital media, the Internet, and social networking appear to have played a role.

Joseph Kahne, Professor of Education at Mills College, discusses the affect of digital and new media practices on political participation.

Joseph Kahne from New Learning Institute on Vimeo.


"Research demonstrates that many youth are disengaged from traditional forms of civic and political life but are very engaged with new media,” Kahne said. “Our study findings strongly suggest that there are ways to build on their engagement with digital media to foster engagement in civic life.” 

First-of-its-Kind Study on Youth and the Internet

Digital Media Literacy Education and Online Civic and Political
The study is unique, tracking hundreds of students over time and asking about online practices and civic and political engagement. Overall, more than 2,500 youth were surveyed and more than 400 youth were followed for several years. The participants came from a highly diverse set of 19 school districts throughout California.

The study examined, for example, how often students:
  • used blogs or social networking sites to share or discuss perspectives on social and political issues
  • used the Internet to get information about political or social issues
  • used email to communicate with others who are working on a political or social issue.
Read more... 

About the MacArthur Foundation 
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. More information is available at www.macfound.org/education.

About Mills College
Nestled in the foothills of Oakland, California, Mills College is a nationally renowned, independent liberal arts college offering a dynamic progressive education that fosters leadership, social responsibility, and creativity in over 950 undergraduate women and more than 600 graduate women and men. The College ranks as one of the Best 373 Colleges in the country and one of the greenest colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. U.S. News & World Report ranked Mills one of the top-tier regional universities in the country and second among colleges and universities in the West in its “Great Schools, Great Prices” category.
For more information, visit http://www.mills.edu/

Source: Business Wire 


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