Young people don’t value the political power of social media, but they would vote

According to new research, most young people aged 14-25 would be likely to vote in an election and would be more likely to if they could do so online. However, they don’t see social networking as particularly useful for furthering a cause, favouring instead an email to their Member of Parliament.

A recent YouGov poll for the Citizenship Foundation interviewed almost 4,000 14-25 year-olds about their attitudes to political participation, politicians and power in the United Kingdom.

  • The majority of respondents said they would be likely to vote, with 59 per cent seeing voting as the most useful way of participating in local or national politics.
  • 32 per cent said they were knowledgeable about “the way that local and national government works”; of those, 71 per cent said the internet was a source of their news.
  • 85 per cent had never joined a campaigning group in their local community (fairly consistent across the age ranges), and 50 per cent thought doing so would make no difference to the issues the tackle (also fairly consistent).
  • 51 per cent had never joined a campaigning group on a social networking site, but 42 per cent had; however 65 per cent thought doing so would make no difference.
  • 54 per cent said they would be more likely to vote if they could do so online. Interestingly, 78 per cent said they had never contacted a TV or radio show (by phone, text or email) to express their views.
  • Email was seen as the most effective tool for making a political difference online. This doubles at the top end of the age bracket. Twitter scores very low and only increases fractionally with older respondents; although interestingly there is a significant spike among 16 year-olds (almost treble the score of younger age groups).

Further information

The research was commissioned to mark the Citizenship Foundation’s 20th year.

Extra!

I’ve had a go at visualising some of the data from this research.
Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Citizenship Foundation.

13 thoughts on “Young people don’t value the political power of social media, but they would vote

  1. Pingback: Citizensheep » Young people don’t value the political power of social media, but they would vote

  2. Readers of this news may also be intereted to read my blog post about young people and the use of online social media to improve political engagement here:
    http://tinyurl.com/ykb4brz

    The article is based on a session from Future Democracy ’09 in London last week, which included representation from the UK Youth Parliament, Heads Up from Hansard and Battlefront from Channel 4. It was a fascinating debate.

    Your comments would be very welcome.

  3. Pingback: Build it and they will come (maybe) « A Life in Beta

  4. Nice blog. More enthusiasm for rights, over our responsibilities, mistrust and disappointment with politicians who don’t live up to expectations, but no great concern over whether they are accessible, and responsive to those that elect them.

  5. Young people are accustomed to a society where everything is easily accessible and made easy for them. If they don’t see any instant value in going to do something ie voting they simply will not bother. By making it easy to vote online I think it would definately make young people more inclined to vote and would also raise lots of PR which can only be a good thing

  6. I think voting online will be available in the future but for now maybe the government should concentrate on using the internet to reach out to the younger generation before expecting them to use the internet as a voting platform. I’m a fan of the web based political video blogging.

  7. Pingback: Webmaster blog » School student learning preferences: a visualisation

  8. Nice blog. More enthusiasm for rights, over our responsibilities, mistrust and disappointment with politicians who don’t live up to expectations, but no great concern over whether they are accessible, and responsive to those that elect them.

Leave a Reply