Young US adults more politically active, but not more knowledgeable

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Washington, Aug 14 (ANI): 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 politics.

"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.

York 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.

"We 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.

"We 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.

The research was presented at the 2009 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication convention. (ANI)

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