Internet Use and Political Interest: Growth Curves, Reinforcing Spirals, and Causal Effects During Adolescence

New publication by Judith Moeller, Adam Shehata, and Sanne Kruikemeier, in Journal of Communication. Find the article here. Abstract:

This study analyzes reinforcing spirals between online media usage and political interest among adolescents. By applying a two-dimensional conceptualization of online media usage that distinguishes between content and interactivity characteristics, the study focuses on the mechanisms and processes stimulating the long-term development of political interest during adolescence. Findings from a unique, six-wave panel study conducted in Sweden over a period of 5 years suggest that reinforcing spirals are driven primarily by non-interactive political information usages of online media. These results contribute to a better understanding of the factors leading to the development of political interest during a crucial life phase, as well as the growing body of literature that theorize media and selection effects as part of reinforcing processes during adolescence.