Mobile Use Linked to Political Engagement
As the U.S. November Midterm elections inch closer, a new study from the University of Michigan found that those who use their cell phone to discuss and share opinions about current events or public affairs are more likely to participate in political activities – from attending a rally to circulating a petition about a candidate or issue.
The recently-released 2010 study included data from a national mail survey that determined how people use their phones to interact with others.
"People aren’t just using their cell phones to discuss their personal lives, they’re informing and discussing with others what’s happening in public life," Scott Campbell, an assistant professor of communication studies and the study’s lead author, told TechNewsDaily.
"Many voters scaled back and became less engaged with politics in the second half of the 20th Century. The Internet and the increased use of mobile phones are helping to reverse some of those trends."
In fact, AT&T reported a record-breaking spike in text messaging exchanges when President Obama won the Presidential Election in 2008.
"Technology isn’t shutting people off from the broader social sphere, it’s contributing to it," Campbell said. "More and more people are discussing what’s happening politically via mobile devices and that’s having a positive effect in influencing political engagement."
The study also found that those most comfortable with technology -- and those using it for informational purposes via apps, news sites and more – are among the most politically engaged. Women and higher-educated respondents also topped the list.
"There’s no doubt that technology will continue to influence engagement in a positive manner moving forward," Campbell said.