Youth Engagement in Politics in Digital Age in Pakistan

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Azeema VOGELER, Center for Communication Programs, Pakistan
Pakistan, a nation of more than 200 million has a youthful population structure. A third of the population falls in the category of youth. The country is rapidly urbanizing which has made access to various technologies such as internet, easier than before. There are more than 45 million users of 3G technology which has brought literally internet at the fingers of these users. A large majority of Pakistani internet users are very active on online social networking sites (SNS) such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Facebook, itself reports around 30 million active users from Pakistan. These users of Facebook are mostly under the age of 34, residents of large cities, and fairly educated. Low cost, ease of use, interactive nature and the ability to reach out the audience instantly has made these SNS sites darling of various entities including government, political parties, businesses, non-profits, mass media etc.

Research on political and civic engagement of youth in Pakistan has shown a dismal picture as there has been a apathy among youth towards this aspect of public life. However, since the spread of social media, this has changed as youth who are already engaged online can be motivated for politics and civic activities. Now, all major political parties in Pakistan have a significant social media presence and they use these sites to engage with current members and recruit more.

The current study plans to interview 100 undergraduate students of a university in Islamabad, about their current civic engagement activities through SNS and the potential of SNS for such activities. The study would explore their views on generating social good and political engagement through social media. Findings will be bolstered with data from experts on social media in Pakistan.