MENLO PARK, Calif. (CBS Las Vegas) – Social media is playing an increasingly important role in the civic involvement of Americans.

A report recently released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project on the matter states that 48 percent of adults use social networking sites to engage in civic-minded activities or groups. The percentage represents a spike in online political activism from the time leading up to the 2008 Presidential election – from 33 percent of the online population to 69 percent in four years’ time.

The survey indicated that younger Americans are especially inclined toward Internet-based activism.

“Younger adults are just as likely as older adults to be engaged in many political activities, and are much more likely to be politically active on social networking sites,” the study noted. “Indeed, the youngest American adults are more likely to engage in political behaviors on social networking sites than in any other venue.”

Activity inquired about during this survey included encouraging others to vote, posting personal political ideologies and sharing links to news items and editorials pertaining to political and social issues on sites such as Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook and micro-blogging site Twitter.

Still, despite the increased use social media for the expression of political ideas, researchers at Pew noted that people continued their civic engagement through more traditional – and less technological – means.

“For most politically active [social networking site] users, social networking sites are not a separate realm of political activity. They are frequently active in other aspects of civic life,” the report noted. “Even as online platforms have grown more prominent in political affairs, Americans’ day-to-day political conversations mostly occur offline.”

The survey was conducted in August of last year.


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