Young Americans couldn’t care less about Iraq
iStockphoto.com It is a generally accepted axiom that the Vietnam War helped make America’s baby boom generation one of the most socially aware generations in history. They knew what was going on in the world, even if the majority of them didn’t like it. Might the war in Iraq be having the same impact on the current generation ...
It is a generally accepted axiom that the Vietnam War helped make America’s baby boom generation one of the most socially aware generations in history. They knew what was going on in the world, even if the majority of them didn’t like it. Might the war in Iraq be having the same impact on the current generation of young Americans?
Nope. Not according to a study (pdf) released yesterday by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, at least. Nearly one in three American teenagers, according to the report, pay almost no attention to daily news. Another 32 percent are merely “casually attentive.” So, taken together, 60 percent of teens can be considered to be basically uninterested in what’s happening in the world.
News flash: Teenagers are apathetic. Tell me something I don’t know, right? It’s tempting to just dismiss this as normal pubescent behavior. But that might be a mistake; these numbers appear to represent a sea change. “A few decades ago,” the report notes, “there were not large differences in the news habits and daily information levels of younger and older Americans.”
But surely, you say, “the Internet” must be informing America’s youth. Apparently not. Just one in five teenagers say they get exposure to news on the Internet everyday, and two thirds of the teens who say they do get some news from the Internet also say they’re not seeking it out, they “just happen to come across it.”
I bet that if the military draft came back, though, you’d suddenly find U.S. teens paying rapt attention to what’s going on out there.
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