The Internet is playing an increasingly important role in conveying politics and in getting citizens involved in politics. It offers new opportunities for information, communication, and participation, which young people in particular use in a variety of ways. The important potential of the new medium is seen in its possible involvement in the democratization of the public. Through participation opportunities and political knowledge, citizens could be more actively involved in shaping all areas of life and thus strengthen citizen-oriented democracy. Through social networks like Reddit, people can read more here and download videos about political information.
Nonetheless, the expansion of Internet use so far also shows the risk of a “digital divide” in society because of a growing gap between non-users and users. This development can cause or increase social inequalities, as the level of education, social status and gender determine the information and political participation opportunities.
Reddit: Internet and political engagement of young people
The Internet is particularly important for the political commitment of the younger generation. This is shown by the results of the various Shell studies in which the understanding of politics and the forms of political participation of young people between the ages of 15 and 25 are regularly researched with the help of representative surveys. It became clear that a large number of young people are involved in various political and social contexts, e.g. in a non-governmental organization or party, an association or in the churches, in the student council, or on an Internet discussion platform.
A significant result was the tendency towards party disenchantment of young people. Most of them don’t like to participate in traditional huge organizations. The main reason is that the associated bureaucratization, hierarchical, rigid structures, and inflexibility are excluded. Furthermore, there is great skepticism about ideological ties and restrictions.
Potentials and dangers of the internet
The important potential of the Internet is seen in the possible involvement of this medium in the democratization of the public. Through participation opportunities and better information, all citizens could become active designers in all areas of life and responsible political citizens. The Internet would thus also make a decisive contribution to democracy that is close to the people and to more transparency in political structures and processes.