Engaging the brain as well as the heart: political literacy and social media platforms

Mark Peter Shephard, Stephen Quinlan, Stephen Tagg, Lindsay Paterson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Social media is now common currency in the daily lives of most people, particularly younger people (Langford and Baldwin 2013). The Youth Citizenship Commission’s final report noted that the prevalence of these channels offers both opportunities and challenges to political literacy and engagement. Opportunities range from the capacity to receive and share information, but also to interact with a global audience. But challenges are also widespread, and include selective consumption/interaction, inadequate representation of viewpoints, limitations in the space available to communicate, and knowing the degree to which information online is actually valid. Social media is now more prevalent in politics, being widely employed as a tool of communication by political campaigns (for e.g.: Gibson and McAllister 2011). It also has an important agenda-setting function, with many news stories now broken via channels such as Twitter. We are also beginning to observe social media having impacts on voter behaviour with research by Bond et al. (2012) illustrating that receipt of messages on Facebook had an effect on voter turnout in the 2010 US mid-term elections. The increasing importance of social media in politics is shifting attention to how these tools can be used more effectively to increase political literacy and engagement in order to create a more informed and critical citizenry who are savvy in their social media interactions. Building on our research of social media platforms of the Scottish independence referendum 2014, a dimension of which has explored the content of over 5,300 social media comments on the BBC’s Have Your Say (HYS) discussion threads, this article identifies five points that users of social media platforms need to keep in mind when evaluating contributions and information obtained from these channels.
LanguageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeyond the Youth Citizenship Commission
Subtitle of host publicationYoung People and Politics
EditorsAndrew Mycock, Jonathan Tonge
Place of PublicationLondon
Pages37-41
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Fingerprint

social media
brain
literacy
agenda setting function
media impact
BBC
voter turnout
politics
twitter
referendum
facebook
interaction
currency
voter
citizenship
news
campaign
election
communication

Keywords

  • social media
  • youth politics
  • political engagement
  • voter behaviour

Cite this

Shephard, M. P., Quinlan, S., Tagg, S., & Paterson, L. (2014). Engaging the brain as well as the heart: political literacy and social media platforms. In A. Mycock, & J. Tonge (Eds.), Beyond the Youth Citizenship Commission : Young People and Politics (pp. 37-41). London.
Shephard, Mark Peter ; Quinlan, Stephen ; Tagg, Stephen ; Paterson, Lindsay. / Engaging the brain as well as the heart : political literacy and social media platforms. Beyond the Youth Citizenship Commission : Young People and Politics. editor / Andrew Mycock ; Jonathan Tonge. London, 2014. pp. 37-41
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Shephard, MP, Quinlan, S, Tagg, S & Paterson, L 2014, Engaging the brain as well as the heart: political literacy and social media platforms. in A Mycock & J Tonge (eds), Beyond the Youth Citizenship Commission : Young People and Politics. London, pp. 37-41.

Engaging the brain as well as the heart : political literacy and social media platforms. / Shephard, Mark Peter; Quinlan, Stephen; Tagg, Stephen; Paterson, Lindsay.

Beyond the Youth Citizenship Commission : Young People and Politics. ed. / Andrew Mycock; Jonathan Tonge. London, 2014. p. 37-41.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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AU - Tagg, Stephen

AU - Paterson, Lindsay

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N2 - Social media is now common currency in the daily lives of most people, particularly younger people (Langford and Baldwin 2013). The Youth Citizenship Commission’s final report noted that the prevalence of these channels offers both opportunities and challenges to political literacy and engagement. Opportunities range from the capacity to receive and share information, but also to interact with a global audience. But challenges are also widespread, and include selective consumption/interaction, inadequate representation of viewpoints, limitations in the space available to communicate, and knowing the degree to which information online is actually valid. Social media is now more prevalent in politics, being widely employed as a tool of communication by political campaigns (for e.g.: Gibson and McAllister 2011). It also has an important agenda-setting function, with many news stories now broken via channels such as Twitter. We are also beginning to observe social media having impacts on voter behaviour with research by Bond et al. (2012) illustrating that receipt of messages on Facebook had an effect on voter turnout in the 2010 US mid-term elections. The increasing importance of social media in politics is shifting attention to how these tools can be used more effectively to increase political literacy and engagement in order to create a more informed and critical citizenry who are savvy in their social media interactions. Building on our research of social media platforms of the Scottish independence referendum 2014, a dimension of which has explored the content of over 5,300 social media comments on the BBC’s Have Your Say (HYS) discussion threads, this article identifies five points that users of social media platforms need to keep in mind when evaluating contributions and information obtained from these channels.

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UR - http://www.psa.ac.uk/

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BT - Beyond the Youth Citizenship Commission

A2 - Mycock, Andrew

A2 - Tonge, Jonathan

CY - London

ER -

Shephard MP, Quinlan S, Tagg S, Paterson L. Engaging the brain as well as the heart: political literacy and social media platforms. In Mycock A, Tonge J, editors, Beyond the Youth Citizenship Commission : Young People and Politics. London. 2014. p. 37-41