Document Type

Article

Department

Graduate School of Media and Communications

Abstract

As the communication world becomes more complex and participatory, social networking sites (SNSs) have emerged as a platform with the potential to invigorate democracy and political engagement. However, the value of SNSs in politics remains contested among researchers. The study reported on in this article was based on a survey of 600 university students, aged between18 and 35, to examine the relationship between social media use and political engagement among the youth in Kenya. The study focused on the extent to which SNSs facilitate consumption of political information and the role of SNSs in influencing political interest, knowledge and behaviour among the youth. The study found that reliance on SNSs is positively associated with political participation; however, this influence is limited, and though useful, it does not radically transform political engagement. Therefore, the capacity of SNSs to shape opinion and influence political preferences is limited but internet based political activities like posting and distributing campaign information and consumption of political content have a bearing on political participation. The study concluded that while SNSs do not seem to have a major direct impact on political choices among users, politicians and other campaign actors cannot ignore the opportunity provided by these platforms in the voter mobilisation process.

Publication

Communicatio

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