CYBERACTIVISM:
A GENERATIONAL
COMPARISON OF
DIGITAL ACTIVISM

A thesis defense by Ashley Noel Hennefer
TERMS TO KNOW
o Cyberactivism: Activism that occurs or is facilitate by the internet and/or
digital technologies (Amin, 20...
SOCIAL TECHNOLOGY DURING
POLITICAL MOVEMENTS
SOCIAL TECHNOLOGY DURING
POLITICAL MOVEMENTS
o Used to coordinate in-person
protests and meet-ups
o Mimicked many in-perso...
DIGITAL LITERACIES
o Ability to use technology and apply traditional literacy skills – reading,
writing, critical thinking...
DIGITAL NATIVES AND
DIGITAL IMMIGRANTS
o Terms coined by Prensky (2001)
o Digital natives: People immersed in
technology f...
CRITICISMS OF DIGITAL
NATIVES
o A Western construct; assumes
that youth has access to
technology

o Assumes characteristic...
CYBERACTIVISM
o Technology-based activism; activism
that takes place on the web or using
internet/digital technologies (Am...
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
o To examine any trends in web-based outlets and
habits associated with digital natives
o To have som...
RESEARCH QUESTIONS
o How do digital natives use web-based
resources to participate in political
movements?
o What are the ...
DESIGN & ANALYSIS
o Quantitative
o Survey instrument
o Analyzed with Chi square, crosstabulated by age
groups
o Responses ...
PARTICIPANTS
o Distributed through social networking: Facebook, Twitter
and Reddit
o Use of hashtags on Twitter: #Cyberact...
LIMITATIONS
o Snowball effect meant an open sample population
o A mix of qualitative/quantitative questions in survey
o A ...
RESULTS: DEMOGRAPHIC
INFORMATION

Age of participants (blue = DI, green = DN)
Age of first computer usage
RESULTS: DEMOGRAPHICS,
CONT.
Digital natives more
likely to use the
internet at younger
ages

Age of first web use
RESULTS: IDENTIFICATION
AS ACTIVIST
Both digital natives
and digital
immigrants identified
as activists
occasionally
RESULTS: ONLINE PETITIONS
Both digital natives
and digital immigrants
signed or created
online petitions; DNs
more so, but...
RESULTS: DEVICE
PREFERENCES
Digital natives favored
mobile devices, digital
immigrants favored
stationary devices
Relation...
RESULTS: PASSIVE VS.
ACTIVE
Relationship between
age and preference for
passive activism;
digital natives more
likely to b...
RESULTS: FORUM
DISCUSSION
Digital natives more active
than digital immigrants
when discussing politics
on web forms
RESULTS: ACCESSING NEWS
Both digital natives
and digital
immigrants used the
web to access news
RESULTS: RESEARCH
PROCESS
Both digital natives and
digital immigrants used
the web as the first step
when researching a
po...
DISCUSSION
o Digital natives used computers and the internet at younger ages than digital
immigrants (Palfrey & Gasser, 20...
IMPLICATIONS FOR FURTHER
RESEARCH
o Exploring characteristics of specific groups of
activists: environmental activists, in...
REFERENCES
Amin, R. (2010). The empire strikes back: Social media
uprisings and the future of
cyberactivism.
Kennedy Schoo...
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Cyberactivism: A generational approach to digital activism

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Cyberactivism: A generational approach to digital activism

  1. 1. CYBERACTIVISM: A GENERATIONAL COMPARISON OF DIGITAL ACTIVISM A thesis defense by Ashley Noel Hennefer
  2. 2. TERMS TO KNOW o Cyberactivism: Activism that occurs or is facilitate by the internet and/or digital technologies (Amin, 2010) o Digital natives: People exposed and immersed in technology from a young age (Prensky, 2001) o Digital immigrants: People exposed to technology at older ages (Prensky, 2001) o Social media: Websites that facilitate social interaction across geographical boundaries (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit) (Christensen, 2011)
  3. 3. SOCIAL TECHNOLOGY DURING POLITICAL MOVEMENTS
  4. 4. SOCIAL TECHNOLOGY DURING POLITICAL MOVEMENTS o Used to coordinate in-person protests and meet-ups o Mimicked many in-person procedures: general assemblies, meetings, strategy planning o Livestreams, Tweets, Facebook events became outlets for citizen-driven news
  5. 5. DIGITAL LITERACIES o Ability to use technology and apply traditional literacy skills – reading, writing, critical thinking (Bawden, 2001) o Adaptation to multiple platforms – mobile and stationary devices, various websites, software, and social networking (Howard & Duffy, 2011) o Distributed intelligence: ―a complex, adaptive learning system that can be sustainable in the face of unpredictable futures‖ (Innes & Booher, 2010)  Social networking uses distributed intelligence—taps into unique skills offered by members of the same community (Fisher & Konomi, 2007)
  6. 6. DIGITAL NATIVES AND DIGITAL IMMIGRANTS o Terms coined by Prensky (2001) o Digital natives: People immersed in technology from a young age; a familiar skill (Prensky, 2001) o Digital immigrants: People who use technology later in life; a learned skill (Prensky, 2001) o Digital natives are avid users of social media and mobile devices (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008)
  7. 7. CRITICISMS OF DIGITAL NATIVES o A Western construct; assumes that youth has access to technology o Assumes characteristics of a generation o Words ―natives‖ and ―immigrants‖ has racial implications
  8. 8. CYBERACTIVISM o Technology-based activism; activism that takes place on the web or using internet/digital technologies (Amin, 2010; Rotman et al., 2011) o Activist literacy: Requires skills of activism as well as digital literacies o Instruments of cyberactivism include social networking, forums
  9. 9. PURPOSE OF THE STUDY o To examine any trends in web-based outlets and habits associated with digital natives o To have some context for how cyberactivism is conducted oTo determine if age plays a role in cyberactivism
  10. 10. RESEARCH QUESTIONS o How do digital natives use web-based resources to participate in political movements? o What are the habitual differences between digital natives and digital immigrants in the use of web-based resources to participate in political movements and discussion?
  11. 11. DESIGN & ANALYSIS o Quantitative o Survey instrument o Analyzed with Chi square, crosstabulated by age groups o Responses were coded based on literature review; focused on active vs. passive actions, differences between digital natives and digital immigrants
  12. 12. PARTICIPANTS o Distributed through social networking: Facebook, Twitter and Reddit o Use of hashtags on Twitter: #Cyberactivism, #occupywallstreet, #arabspring, #occupygezi (Turkey protests were occurring at the time of distribution) o Snowball effect gained responses o Distributed to students in Northern California for additional responses
  13. 13. LIMITATIONS o Snowball effect meant an open sample population o A mix of qualitative/quantitative questions in survey o A Likert scale would have provided more consistent responses
  14. 14. RESULTS: DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION Age of participants (blue = DI, green = DN) Age of first computer usage
  15. 15. RESULTS: DEMOGRAPHICS, CONT. Digital natives more likely to use the internet at younger ages Age of first web use
  16. 16. RESULTS: IDENTIFICATION AS ACTIVIST Both digital natives and digital immigrants identified as activists occasionally
  17. 17. RESULTS: ONLINE PETITIONS Both digital natives and digital immigrants signed or created online petitions; DNs more so, but only marginally
  18. 18. RESULTS: DEVICE PREFERENCES Digital natives favored mobile devices, digital immigrants favored stationary devices Relationship between age and device preference
  19. 19. RESULTS: PASSIVE VS. ACTIVE Relationship between age and preference for passive activism; digital natives more likely to be passive
  20. 20. RESULTS: FORUM DISCUSSION Digital natives more active than digital immigrants when discussing politics on web forms
  21. 21. RESULTS: ACCESSING NEWS Both digital natives and digital immigrants used the web to access news
  22. 22. RESULTS: RESEARCH PROCESS Both digital natives and digital immigrants used the web as the first step when researching a political cause
  23. 23. DISCUSSION o Digital natives used computers and the internet at younger ages than digital immigrants (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008; Prensky, 2001) o Digital natives preferred mobile devices over stationary; are more social and mobile (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008) o Digital natives exhibited passive activism more so than digital immigrants (Rotman et al., 2011) o Internet plays a role for both digital natives and digital immigrants: both used web for news access, online petitions and research (Sivitanides & Marcos, 2011; Valenzuela, 2013)
  24. 24. IMPLICATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH o Exploring characteristics of specific groups of activists: environmental activists, internet freedom activists, human rights activists o The role of education within cyberactivism o The role of gender within cyberactivism oDetermining if passive/active habits are true of digital natives and digital immigrants
  25. 25. REFERENCES Amin, R. (2010). The empire strikes back: Social media uprisings and the future of cyberactivism. Kennedy School Review, 64–66. Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. (R. K. Belew & M. D. Vose, Eds.) On Horizon, 9(5), 1-6. MCB UP Ltd. the Bawden, D. (2001). Information and digital literacies: a review of concepts. Journal of Documentation, 57(2), 218–259. Rotman, D., Vieweg, S., Yardi, S., Chi, E., Preece, J., Shneiderman, B, Pirolli, P., & Glaisyer, T. (2011). From slacktivism to activism: participatory culture in the age of social media. Paper presented at Christensen, C. (2011). Twitter revolutions? Addressing the annual CHI (Computer-Human Interaction) social media and dissent. The Communication Conference in Vancouver, Canada. Abstract retrieved Review, 14(3), 155–157. from http://yardi.people.si.umich.edu/pub/Yard CHI11_SIG.pdf. Innes, J., & Booher, D. (2010). Indicators for sustainable communities: a strategy building on complexity Sivitanides, M., & Marcos, S. (2011). The era of digital activism. theory and distributed intelligence. Planning Theory & Conference for Information Systems Applied Research Practice,1(2), 173-186. (pp. 1–8). Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2008). Born digital: Understanding the first generation of digital natives. New York: Basic Books. Valenzuela, S. (2013). Unpacking the use of social media for protest behavior: the roles of information, opinion expression, and activism. American Behavioral Scientist,57(7), 920-942.

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