Online Political Involvement Makes Inroads on Traditional Methods

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Social media websites like Facebook and Twitter are engaging more and more people in political activity, but they are still not as widespread as traditional forms of political involvement.


A survey by Pew’s Internet & American Life Project found that 22% of American adults had signed a paper petition, while only 17% had signed an online petition; 21% had recently contacted a government official about an issue by phone, by letter or in person, whereas 18% had done so online, by email or by text message.


About 60% of people who had made political donations had done so in person, by telephone or by regular mail, while 23% had done so online. Another 16% had contributed both online and by more traditional methods.


On the other hand, only 7% of American adults had called into a live radio or television show to express an opinion about a political or social issue, while 18% commented online about a political or social news story or blog post.


Just 3% of Americans had sent a letter to a newspaper or magazine by regular mail, while 4% had done so online, by email or text message.


Even though traditional methods of political engagement still predominate, online involvement is much more common upon younger American adults and is thus expected to grow in importance.

-David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Civic Engagement in the Digital Age (by Aaron Smith, Pew Research Center)

Social Networks Are Getting Political, But It's No Revolution, Says Pew Study (by Devin Coldewey, NBC News)


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