Millennials Know the Web, but Not the Federal Leviathan

A few weeks late to the party on this one, but an interesting research study released by researchers at Penn State University and Rutgers reveals that while Millennials may be well-versed in the use of Internet tools, their knowledge of basic civics ┬ámay be preventing deeper political participation – especially with the Federal Government.

PSU Professor Jens Grossklags puts it directly: “while they [Millennials] might be comfortable on some sites and social networks, that doesn’t necessarily mean that young adults know how to use the Internet for political participation.”

In the experiment, Grossklags gave 12 university students a couple of policy scenarios about which they were required to contact a Federal agency online related to the policy issue.

The results?

“In evaluating the students’ success, the researchers found that only half of them were able to search successfully for the correct web site. For the prescription drug scenario, only three participants found the Federal Drug Administration. One person found the Federal Aviation Administration in the scenario on airport safety, and one person correctly navigated to the Environmental Protection Agency in response to a scenario about environmental efforts. In the health care reform scenario, only one person found the White House website, and another participant navigated to the White House’s Facebook page.”

The Science Daily article about the report concludes: “A general lack of knowledge of how federal government works and how it is structured limited the participants’ ability to search for government websites.”

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