Age, Social Media and Politics

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    Auto-Scroll: ONOFF 
    • 00:02

      KELLY KAUFHOLD: Hi, I'm Dr. Kelly Kaufhold at Texas StateUniversity, and I shared research on the role of ageand political knowledge and political participationin the Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics.Now about three fourths of Americans are on social media,but among the youngest, those 30 and under, it's more than 90%active on social media.Among the oldest Americans, though 65 and above,

    • 00:24

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: it's about half, 49%.But the oldest Americans, those 65 and above,the ones from the greatest generation, they'rethree times more likely to follow newsonline than the youngest adults.So even though young people are more likely to be onlineand to be active in social media,the oldest Americans are much, muchmore likely to follow news online,

    • 00:44

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: and in fact, to share news through social media.Let's talk about some generational trends,differences between people born before World WarII, the greatest generation, and the millennials,born since about 1980.The greatest generation were much more active,and people in general up until the 1960swere much more active in social organizations.There's been a big drop off since the 1960s

    • 01:06

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: in membership and fraternal organizations,political participation, participationin athletic leagues like softball and bowling,union membership, taking part in community organizations, bookclubs.Participation in all of those thingsis down dramatically since the 1960s, and a lot of itis generational.The oldest Americans still try to participate in those things.

    • 01:27

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: Younger people never did participate.Now let me talk about how that extends to media.Newspaper readership is down dramatically, especiallyamong young adults.Now you might think, OK, well, that's newspapers.Why should we be concerned about that?Young people don't read news until they need to.When they get older, get married, buy houses,have kids, that's when they startpaying attention and following the news.

    • 01:48

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: And that's the conventional wisdom, but it's wrong.Research shows, from Pew and others, that in the 1960s,young adults read newspapers at about the same rate as people65 and over.Let me say that again.In the 1960s, the youngest and oldest Americans, even teams,read newspapers at just about the same level.The same number of papers, same amount of time per day.

    • 02:11

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: Now older Americans are four times morelikely to read the newspaper than the youngest adults.And the youngest adults aren't picking up those habitsas they age and take on more responsibility.And there's a long, really well knownrelationship between reading news, especiallyin the newspaper, and being civically engagedand participating politically.Here's how it works.

    • 02:31

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: The best informed people, traditionally itwas newspaper readers, print newspaper readers,they would be more civically engaged.They'd be more likely to talk with their neighborsabout politics, to discuss issues.That participation, getting out, meeting neighbors,talking politics, made all of themmore likely to participate, to vote, volunteer for a campaign,donate to a campaign, maybe even run for office themselves.

    • 02:52

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: So there was this long established linkbetween newspaper readership, civic engagement-- talkingwith your neighbors-- political participation,actually going out and taking part of the process.There is a lot of new evidence thatshows other kinds of news consumption onlinecontribute to that same relationship.So if you get news online in some fashion,you're more likely to be civically engaged,talk with neighbors, participate politically.

    • 03:14

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: That same pattern holds.Newspapers are kind of the gold standard,but there is a place for new media including social media.So people who are active in social media with newsstill see that same pattern.They'll be more civically engaged,talk to their neighbors, they'll be more active politically.They'll be more likely to vote and participatein other ways in campaigns.So where does social media fit in?Again, there's some evidence that following news

    • 03:37

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: in social media contributes to this process.There are also opportunities to be civically engagedand to participate politically onlineand through social media.The most important reason to do that in social mediais because that's where the young people are.So we have two possibilities.People either migrate their existing habitsfor news and civic engagement online and into social media,or they get online and into social media

    • 03:59

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: and they develop news habits, some good, some bad.So which is it?Well, it depends.So let's talk about social media and politics.They intersect in four ways.First, they're a channel for political actors, politicians,people who are advocates, to get information outto consumers in much the same way as the traditional media.Second, they're an aggregation source,

    • 04:19

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: a digital Rolodex, if you will, for opinion leaders.It's a way for people to build contacts, maintainthose contacts, and use them as a network for distributing,having a conversation, sharing information back and forth.Third, they're a platform for participation.Maybe the purest, most accessible efforts,direct democracy, there's an opportunity for youto interact, to correspond directly

    • 04:41

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: with political actors in a way itwas never possible with mainstream, traditional media.And finally, it's a digital town hall.Social media is an open discoursewhere anybody can talk about anything with anyoneat any time.It's a very different way of looking at the worldand sharing opinions.So do politicians have unfettered access to usin social media?No, we have to let them in.

    • 05:02

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: So while the direct democracy partlets you have some access to a political actor-- say,you can write directly on Twitter to your senatoror to Justin Bieber, whoever you wantedto reach out to-- we have to let them in.Friend them, follow them, in some wayconnect and participate.So we still do have that right of refusal,but it does open the door.And it gives you tremendous abilityto reach out directly to someone that you never

    • 05:24

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: could have had access to before.But a lot of folks are in the social media space right now.Lawmakers, advocacy groups, even government advocacylike stopbullying.gov, they have an opportunity to reach out.And because their target audience is young people,they're going into social media space, eventhe newest social media space.So they're on Facebook, Twitter.But they're also increasingly on Instagram, Snapchat.

    • 05:46

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: And that's where they're finding young peopleand reaching them with their message.If you're young you grew up with social media,but it hasn't been around that long.Myspace launched in 2003.Facebook a year later, Twitter a couple of years after that.These things, smartphones with apps,they've only been around since about 2007.So think about this.You may not have your congressman's phone number,

    • 06:06

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: but you might be able to reach out to them directlythrough social media in an app on your phone.And they can reach out to you, depending on your settings.Remember, then candidate Senator Barack Obama in 2008,he announced his vice presidential pickthrough text message.How would you like to have that list of numbers?He was even more successful in social media in 2008because he got the highest turnout among young voters

    • 06:26

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: in 30 years.It was largely because of his presence in social media.So earlier I mentioned the two competing hypotheses.Either you take your existing habits and migrate them online,or you get online and you develop some new habits.Again, good and bad.And this is what we see, is older Americansget active in social media.They've already been sharing news.They continue to do that in the social media space.

    • 06:48

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: Because of that, they're friends with news junkies.They share news with each other.And that relationship I mentioned with the newspapersstays the same.People get exposed to news in social media,there's civically engaged, they participate politically.If your friends follow celebrity gossip,feature stories, not politics, then not so much.We already know the oldest Americans are the most engaged

    • 07:10

      KELLY KAUFHOLD [continued]: with news online.That tends to also translate to social media.So what happens is if you're friends with news junkies,you get exposed to news.If you aren't, then you don't get exposed to news,and it breaks that chain of civic engagement,political participation.And the biggest predictor of whether you'llbe exposed to news through social media is age.

Age, Social Media and Politics

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Abstract

Dr. Kelly Kaufhold explains the intersection between news consumption and civic engagement, and how social media affects that intersection.

Age, Social Media and Politics

Dr. Kelly Kaufhold explains the intersection between news consumption and civic engagement, and how social media affects that intersection.

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