chapter  43
Media and civic engagement: the role of Web 2.0 technologies in fostering youth participation
ByTao Papaioannou
Pages 8

Civic participation among youth has a powerful normative value for democracy. However, until recently, the interest in public life among youth has been steadily declining. Young people are described as politically apathetic as they are uninterested in the news media, unaware of national and international current affairs and indifferent about participating in the political process (Lopez et al., 2005). The advent of Web 2.0 technologies such as social networking media, YouTube, blogs and Wikis provides young people with new opportunities and different modes of processing information, interacting among one another and participating in communities and society. Political and civic groups are increasingly promoting themselves online, hoping to attract the interest and support of young people who are inclined to use these technologies. While the use of social media such as Facebook in articulating citizens’ actions and social change has challenged more traditional participation and public debate practices, important questions are emerging about the potential of these technologies to facilitate civic participation and empower youth. This chapter reviews current research exploring the role of Web 2.0 technologies in fostering

civic interests and participation among youth. It specifically focuses on three issues: (1) reconceptualizing the very notion of civic participation so that it reflects the ways in which young people incorporate their civic interests and media content into their everyday lives; (2) examining whether and how children and teenagers make selective use of digital technologies for civic purposes in view of the participation opportunities that new media offer and the ways in which young people utilize online tools available to them; and (3) identifying strategies to further promote online civic participation among youth. This review includes works that aim to provide new insights into advocacy scholarship and practice, and these works are presented as a new starting point for further research, validation and debate.