|Young adults involved, but not politically well-educated|
|Written by Sakura Robles, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Wednesday, 19 August 2009 21:47|
A Kansas State University study by three graduate students finds that the 18 to 24 year old demographic became increasingly politically active during the 2008 U.S. Election season due to the use of new media, but were not necessarily more politically knowledgeable.
The study surveyed more than 160 undergraduate students, with no indication of their political party, about their use of traditional media as well as new media sources, such as Twitter or YouTube, to obtain information about the presidential campaign.
The students were actively engaging in politics through new media and in result, their involvement in political activities increased.
"What really stimulated students in terms of being politically active was, very simply, the Obama campaign," ISU Professor of Politics and Government Robert Bradley said.
"Obama intentionally reached out to 18 to 24 year olds. He took advantage of what they would call new media by using Facebook, Twitter and various other Web sites. He proved successful in this by the numbers of this age cohort who came out to vote."
The study also found that most students were not politically knowledgeable, with no idea of whether or not the student was a Democrat or Republican. Darnisha Monson, junior English education major, found herself to be one of the many students who became actively involved in the 2008 election.
"I believe it to be very true that younger people are not more knowledgeable," Monson said. "I am active and voted but I fell into the hype. I knew and felt I was voting for the right guy based on my parents, friends and the media but did not do the full research myself."
The Kansas State University study also had limitations, in particular that the students were not selected at random.
There was a set of students within the study who were both politically active and educated, making for a high correlation between those two components and voting.
The study also indicated that, amidst the 18 to 24 year olds examined, the people who voted in the election were not the ones using the new media to acquire all of their political information.
What the study did not state are the possible solutions or steps universities can take to reverse the trend of young adults expressing more political action but less political knowledge.
"That is the big question," Bradley said, "How do we get [college students] to turn out numbers in an election that is not tied directly to electing a president?"
Although no foolproof solution has been given, Bradley believes it is his responsibility to educate students on the political issues, which affect them directly.
"It is my job as a professor to figure out how to get your generation tuned into local politics, Bradley said.
"College students have a very short attention span so it is my job to keep [college students] interested... you are not going to learn."