YouTube and Video Blogs help with Millennials’ Political Efficacy?

Over the years, students of all ages are told throughout their education that their generation (generations X & Y/millennials) has decreased in political efficacy when it comes to our government, which leads to increasingly less political knowledge and participation, The Economist reports. This generation is run by the digital world and most young people cannot go one day without accessing the internet for information. So why are students told that their generation’s political efficacy is decreasing when they have access to a wealth of knowledge in the internet? And how do young people get their political information? After accessing that information, how informed do they feel about government and politics?

The Youth Participatory Politics Survey project asked young adults in 2011 within the age range of 15–25 across the United States whether they consider themselves “well qualified to participate in politics,” and gave them options to answer, “strongly disagree,” “disagree,” “agree,” and “strongly agree.” The news sources options offered in the study are Facebook and Twitter, YouTube and video blogs, television, internet forums, email forwards, internet news sites, entertainment news, news aggregation sites (ex; Google News Alerts), and print newspapers.

In the survey, the news source that was chosen by young people the most to help them consider themselves well qualified to participate in politics, was YouTube and video blogs. Within the category of YouTube and video blogs, on average, they were accessed 2.363 days a week. And the next news source, coming in a close second, was internet news sites accessed 2.358 days a week. (Figure 1).

With the spike in internet usage since it first emerged, the fact that the top news sources are accessed through the internet, is not surprising. However, with internet news sites trailing close behind, it is surprising that both YouTube and video blogs and internet news sites would surpass Facebook and Twitter with the time that millennials spend on social media. Before looking at the data, I expected Facebook and Twitter to be among the most used news sources to help young people feel confident because millennials are spending around 6 hours per week on social media, according to a report from Nielsen.

Around election day, many hear the phrase, “I don’t feel informed enough to vote,” or some version of that because according to a Pew Research Center study on What the Public Knows — In Pictures, Words, Maps and Graphs, millennials are the least informed generation when it comes to current events and politics. So what needs to change? Maybe it’s the type of news source that the consumer chooses to receive their news. Maybe it’s the bias attached with any news source. Maybe it’s the fact that the consumer has the ability to access the type of information they want to access. Maybe it’s the education system? Whatever it may be, as of 2011, YouTube and video blogs are the news sources that made young people feel more confident to participate politically.

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