America's youth and community engagement: How use of mass media is related to civic activity and political awareness in 14- to 22-year-olds

Josh Pasek, Kate M Kenski, Daniel Romer, Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

96 Scopus citations


This research examines the role of the mass media in young people's disengagement from politics. In a nationally representative telephone survey (N = 1,501), young people (ages 14 to 22) reported their habits for 12 different uses of mass media as well as awareness of current national politics and time spent in civic activities. Following Putnam's hypothesis about the beneficial effects of civic ties on political involvement, the authors predict and find that civic activity is positively associated with political awareness. Contrary to Putnam, they find that media use, whether information or entertainment oriented, facilitates civic engagement, whereas news media are especially effective in promoting political awareness. Although heavy use of media interferes with both political and civic engagement, the overall effect of media use is favorable for each outcome. The results are discussed in regard to the potentially greater use of the media to build community engagement in young people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-135
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006



  • Civic participation
  • Media use
  • Political awareness
  • Social capital
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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