Part of the Volume on Civic Life Online: Learning How Digital Media Can Engage Youth
Many have hoped that recent increases in online political campaigning might potentially stimulate greater political engagement among American youth. In this chapter we explore this possibility, drawing insights from a variety of studies ranging from feature and content analyses of campaign websites to detailed focus group discussions with young citizens. On the whole, this research suggests a yawning generation gap between the ways that political candidates typically use the Internet, and the preferences and expectations young people bring to cyberspace. Focusing on competing notions of interactivity as a key fault line, we conclude with a discussion of the principal issues that must be negotiated in order for this gap to be narrowed.