Youth Voting

I recently completed work on a Master of Arts degree in Communications and Technology from the University of Alberta. My capping project examined the media habits of young people as it related to their voter participation.

More specifically, this study examines the media habits of 18-29 year olds as it relates to their propensity to be a voter. It examines the research question: How is communication technology used by young people (aged 18-29) to gather news and political information and how does that usage impact their participation in voting.

Using a sequential mixed methods approach it looks at data from the 2011 Canadian Election Survey to create an index to measure propensity to vote and then uses that index to measure for correlations from the responses of youth in that study to other survey items that relate to media usage and social capital. Additionally, it includes one focus group interview (n=5) and three individual interviews (n=3) of youth to get a better understanding of their media habits related to news and information gathering.

The study finds that voter participation is correlated to watching news on television, reading news in the newspaper and on the Internet, exchanging political news on the Internet and discussing news and politics with family. The qualitative interviews found that the 18-29 year old participants extensively use a wide variety of media; use mobile phones for quicker tasks often to kill time; consume various amounts of news media related to their propensity to be a voter; and that the more probable voters engaged in extensive news seeking, while the less probable voters focused media consumption around other areas of interest.


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