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Youth online activity and exposure to diverse perspectives

Joseph Kahne

Date: Apr 30, 2012

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New Media and Society, May 2012; 14 (3), first published October 3, 2011

Some see the internet as a means of exposure to divergent perspectives, while others believe that it is likely to foster echo chambers. We agree that it is important to attend to these possibilities, but we find that this discussion is often framed inappropriately. Drawing on a unique panel survey of the online practices and civic and political engagement of youth (aged 16–21), we find that most youth do not report exposure to echo chambers or divergent perspectives. Rather, most report either being exposed to views that both align with and diverge from their own, or they report not interacting with others about their views on societal issues at all. We also find that particular forms of online participatory activity, digital media literacy activities, and political interest are related to increased reports of exposure to diverse perspectives.