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Compensator, Amplifier, or Distractor? How Informal Talk Affects Adolescents’ Political Learning From the News Media

Sun, May 28, 11:00 to 12:15, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 2, Indigo 206


With an increasing number of young people turning away from traditional news sources, an important question for democracy is whether alternative sources can help learning about politics. In this study we examine to what extent informal political talk narrows or widens knowledge gaps amongst adolescents by compensating those with low news media use, amplifying news media effects amongst those with high news media use, or confusing those with high news media use. To test these different potentials, we take advantage of a four-wave panel study fielded ahead of the Danish National Election in 2015 among a representative sample of Danish first-time voters (age 17–21). Our results show that informal political talk functions as a compensator by informing those with low news use about current political affairs. Further, our results show that in particular online news media sources are important for informing the young generation of citizens about politics.