Monday, January 31, 2011

Good News for the Future?

Yep, my headline above is the beginning of an article title published in the latest Communication Research.  And it has a question mark, the up-and-coming trend in academic punctuation.

The full title is:

Good News for the Future?
Young People, Internet Use,
and Political Participation

We can use some good news, right?  This survey of 2,409 people, ages 16-24, found that "a variety of Internet uses are positively related with different forms of political participation."  That's good news, in particular since it kinda sorta runs counter to both intuition and Bowling Alone suggestions about the Net's impact on people, especially young people.  There's also a positive impact for traditional media use, but the authors say it's weak in comparison.  Duration of media use isn't what matters, they argue, but rather the type of media used.

In other words, young folks are taking Internet-based media and making it their own -- and such exposure does indeed positively predict participation.  That's important for scholars who begin with the assumption that this Net stuff ain't so good.

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