Youth Online Activity and Exposure to Diverse Perspectives


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 of youth (ages 16–21) and on their civic and political engagement, we find that most youth are not consistently exposed to echo chambers or divergent perspectives. Rather, we find that most youth are exposed to views that align with and diverge from their own, or they are exposed to neither. We also find that political interest, particular forms of online participation, and digital media literacy education can promote greater exposure to these diverse perspectives.

Joseph Kahne - Mills College
Ellen Middaugh - Mills College
Nam-Jin Lee - College of Charleston
Jessica Timpany Feezell - University of California, Santa Barbara

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Publication Date: 
February 23, 2011