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New Report Released on Youth Civic Engagement

Someone forwarded an email to me today from Barbara Gottlieb, in which she announced a just-released research report called “Youth as E-Citizens: Engaging the Digital Generation.” This study, by Kathryn Montgomery, Gary Larson and Barbara, is the first to “map” and analyze the rich but little-known terrain of websites that promote youth civic engagement. According to Barbara, the study “brings to light an online youth civic culture, largely unnoticed by the general public, that has taken hold on the Internet and is fostering Generation Y’s participation in U.S. politics and community affairs.” Click below for Barbara’s entire announcement.

I’d like to bring to your attention a just-released research report, “Youth as E-Citizens: Engaging the Digital Generation.” This study, by Kathryn Montgomery, Gary Larson and myself, is the first to “map” and analyze the rich but little-known terrain of websites that promote youth civic engagement.

Our study brings to light an online youth civic culture, largely unnoticed by the general public, that has taken hold on the Internet and is fostering Generation Y’s participation in U.S. politics and community affairs. We hope that our report and accompanying website give this material the higher profile that it deserves, and will deepen the appreciation of the civic role played by the Internet.

You can access three resources that present and illustrate our findings:

Full report (155 pp): http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/ecitizens/youthreport.pdf

Executive summary: http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/ecitizens/execsumm.pdf

“Online tour” website: http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/ecitizens/index.htm

Much of the debate over young people and media culture has focused on protecting youth from harmful content on the one hand, or threatening them with prosecution for illegal music downloading on the other. This study reveals that young people also use the Internet to learn and practice a host of civic skills. These include registering to vote and to volunteer; writing and debating about world events; launching projects for community improvement; and organizing and engaging in political activism.

The report also identifies developments that could threaten the survival and growth of the new online civic culture. It recommends initiatives, both public and private, that could help ensure a vital youth civic sector in the digital age. Among them: further studies to assess the impact of online efforts on offline civic engagement; incorporation of online content into high school civic education curricula; development of new funding models; and government requirements for “open access” to broadband networks.

Youth as E-Citizens received major funding from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). The report is published by the Center for Social Media, School of Communication, American University.

I hope you’ll find this research, and the rich vein of youth civic activity it exposes, as stimulating — and as heartening — as we did.

Best wishes,

Barbara Gottlieb
Research Director, Center for Social Media
School of Communication
American University
Washington, DC 20016-8017
gottlieb@american.edu
202-885-2082

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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