U.S. youth going online for politics

June 26, 2012 at 3:23 PM
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CHICAGO, June 26 (UPI) -- Young people are going online to engage in peer-based participatory politics, bypassing traditional political elites and institutions, a U.S. survey found.

In a survey of 3,000 young people ages 15-25 on how they use the Internet, social media and engage in politics, substantial numbers across racial and ethic groups said they are engaging in "participatory politics" such as starting a political group online, circulating a blog about a political issue or forwarding political videos to friends.

These participatory acts are interactive, peer-based, and do not defer to elites or formal institutions, the study found.

Principle study authors Cathy Cohen of the University of Chicago and Joseph Kahne of Mills College said the study is one of the most complete pictures to date of how young people are using new media to engage politically, providing insights on both the long-term political picture in America and the upcoming 2012 election.

"As the 2012 election approaches, it is important to realize how young people, especially youth of color, are using new media to amplify their voices in the political realm," Cohen said in a University of Chicago release Tuesday.

"Not only did we find that large numbers of youth take part in participatory politics, but, defying conventional expectations, black and Asian-American youth are the most avid users of new media for friendship and interest-driven activities."

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