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Cyberactivism: A generational comparison of digital activism
AdvisorTownsend, Dianna R.
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Since the events of the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street took place largely through the Web using social networking and mobile devices, the concept of "cyberactivism" has become a popular topic of discussion and criticism within the media and academia. Cyberactivism, also referred to as web-based or digital activism, focuses on the use of technology to participate in political activism. Within cyberactivist scholarship, there is a focus on "digital natives"--youth who have grown up surrounded by and immersed in technology--and how they use technology for political means. Subsequently, those who used technology later in life are referred to as "digital immigrants." In this study (n = 305), participants were surveyed on their digital activist habits. The data allowed for an examination of the specific outlets of cyberactivism and the current political and technological climates that support that behavior. The findings, for which a Chi square statistical analysis was used, compare habits between age groups, revealing generational differences in the use of web-based tools. In particular, digital natives are more likely to use the internet to engage in political discussion and activity, but they do so passively. Digital immigrants, however, see the web in more of a supporting role for their activism, as they use web-based tools to emphasize the use of in-person action and discussion. Areas of future research may focus on the implications of these patterns of cyberactivist behavior for digital natives and digital immigrants, and how these habits will impact the future of political activism.Keywords: Cyberactivism, digital literacy, digital activism, activist literacy.