Millenials use online media for social change

By the second day of being uploaded to YouTube, Invisible Children’s 30-minute Kony 2012 video increased views by the millions and has totaled to more than 84 million as of Wednesday.

The video, released to raise awareness about child soldiers, was most watched by people under age 30 who heard about the video on the Internet, according to a Pew Research Center study.

Of the 58 percent of Millenials — those under the age of 30 — who said they heard about the video, 36 percent learned about the video through the Internet. In comparison, of the 50 percent of adults polled between the ages of 30 and 49 who said they heard about the video, 22 percent said they first learned about the video from Internet sources. Of those between 50 and 64, 12 percent first heard about the video through the Internet and of those 65 and older, only five percent first heard about the video through the Internet.

“Kony 2012 is a great case study of generational differences,” said Morley Winograd, a senior fellow at the Center on Communication Leadership and Policy at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. “The Millennial generation is a group-oriented generation. They share things widely and enjoy doing so.”

The speed and low cost for consumers makes online media popular among Millenials, Winograd said.

Andrea Edoria, a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism, said she uses the Internet every day as her primary news source.

“I don’t have a TV so I go on the Internet to get my news,” Edoria said. “Mostly, I’ll look at news networks like CNN, but also Twitter and Facebook.”

Stacy Huang, a sophomore majoring in psychology, said she also gets the majority of her news online.

“It’s easier to access than a newspaper,” Huang said. “Rather than wait for news, it comes right to me.”

Winograd said those who were born in the 50s, 60s and 70s have different values than millenials.

“Generation X and the baby boomer generation were raised very different,” Winograd said. “Generation X was raised with a loose style of parenting, and thus developed a ‘fend for themselves’ mentality, while boomers focused on personal values as they were maturing.”

This means those who were skeptical of the video at first were older. Baby boomers prefer to trust established sources and Generation X does not trust the group movements.

“You have Boomers saying, ‘No, no leave this to the experts already at work,’” Winograd said. “Then you have Generation X at the forefront of the pushback [against Kony 2012] skeptical of group activities and saying, ‘Where is my money going?’”

The Pew poll supports this, as it found two-thirds of the initial Twitter conversation supported the video against Kony. Winograd said the data shows how the Millennial generation, most active on Twitter, was quick to embrace the movement and offered the least skepticism toward it.

Faith Jessie, a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism, chose to share the Kony 2012 link after watching the video and conducting her own research.

“I found out, like anyone else, on Facebook,” Jessie said. “The majority, though, shared the Kony 2012 video and went about their day,” Jessie said.

The skepticism of older generations is merited, Winograd said, because social media sacrifices fact-checking and editing in exchange for speech and instant access.

“There is a great danger that people will believe something is true because everyone else is sharing it,” Winograd said. “It creates an environment where conformity is cultivated as opposed to skepticism.”

Though the factuality of some information portrayed in Kony 2012 is hard to discern, the video raises awareness, Jessie said.

“Although [Kony 2012] isn’t 100 percent black and white, it still gave millions of people awareness on an issue they hadn’t heard about,” Jessie said.