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Although young adults between 18- to 24-year-olds are more
politically active, their involvement hasn't increased their
knowledge about politics, finds a new US study.
Three Kansas State University graduate students have found that the
18- to 24-year-old demographic became more politically active during
the 2008 U.S. election season through the use of media such as blogs
and YouTube, but they were not necessarily more knowledgeable about
"Politicians in general are so reliant on political polling, but
politicians are not examining how much the voter knows about the
issues they're voting on", said Chance York, one of the three
master's students in journalism and mass communications.
along with Keunyeong Kim and Sookyong Kim surveyed more than 160
undergraduate students in February about their use of both
traditional media sources, including radio campaign commercials, and
new media sources, like blogs, to obtain information about
presidential candidates and their campaign issues.
were trying to find what information sources 18- to 24-year olds
were looking at and how that might have affected their political
activism and their level of political knowledge", said York.
found that the students were really politically active.
"They talked about the campaigns with their friends, and a lot of
people got online on a social networking site to talk about the
campaigns. Not many wrote blogs, but a considerable amount kept up
with blogs", he added.
However, most students were not politically knowledgeable. For
instance, many students did not know what Guantanamo Bay was; some
said it was a Caribbean resort.
There also was a set of people that were both politically active and
knowledgeable, and there was a high correlation between those two
variables and voting.
"People who were actually voting were both active and knowledgeable,
and that wasn't affected by whether the student was a Democrat or
Republican, or liberal or conservative", said York.
"What we can't say is that this is true for all 18-to 24-year-olds,
and statistically we can't make a significant inference. However,
there is not a lot of research in this area, and so trying to forge
out that path is a good start", he added.
research was presented at the 2009 Association for Education in
Journalism and Mass Communication convention.