A Hush Falls Over the Crowd: Diminished Online Civic Expression Among Young Civic Actors

Emily C. Weinstein, Margaret Rundle, Carrie James


An earlier investigation of civically engaged youth’s online civic expression, conducted by the authors, revealed that most youth expressed their off-line civic views in their online lives. But do youth change their online civic expression over time? If so, how and why? A follow-up study of the original participants about two years later provides a longitudinal perspective on online civic expression. Survey responses from 41 U.S.-based civic youth reveal that over 40% changed their expression patterns over the two-year period, with most quieting or silencing expression. These changes correspond to a group-level shift: Withholding civic expression on social media is most common at the time of our follow-up study. Key rationales for individual shifts, as stated by participants, are described.


civic expression, civic engagement, online expression, young people, social media

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