Date of Award
Master of Arts
In an age where technology is advancing rapidly, young people are often the technology "natives" who understand and utilize its capabilities better than any other group in our society. Along with changing interaction models, youth are learning to "socialize" differently than any other generation has, absent face-to-face contact via digital interface. These types of connections are affecting America's political and social landscape by changing the way youth are orientated into our culture. Many adults complain about the "distractions" of texting, Facebook, and computer games. Yet, these "distractions" might also be a means to engage young people in civic life. Current research shows the power of these technologies to encourage and foster civic activity outside the traditional venues of schools and civic associations. Technology is also being explored in the classroom for its impact on student interest and performance, both academically and civically. Thus, incorporation of technologies into the classroom may be part of the answer to the declining youth participation in our democracy. This study examines the relationship between in-class use of digital media and measures of civic and political engagement. It utilizes logistic regression to interpret data from an assessment given to the 2008 graduating class at Central City High School (pseudonym). Analysis of this data shows that digital media use in the classroom has a positive effect on overall political knowledge, but leaves questions about its ability to affect students' civic capacity or civic commitment.
This thesis is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.