BOSTON War and politics are largely ignored by
American teenagers, according to a Harvard University study
released on Tuesday, which found that 60 percent of them pay
little attention to daily news.
Researchers interviewed 1,800 people between January and
March and found that 28 percent of Americans between the ages
of 12 and 17 said they pay almost no attention to news every
day. Another 32 percent said they pay only casual attention to
one news source a day.
"News is not something that gets a lot of time or attention
or interest from teens," said Thomas Patterson, a professor of
government and the press at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of
Among people aged 18 to 30, the poll found 48 percent said
they are inattentive to daily news. Only 23 percent of older
Americans said they largely ignore news.
In general, soft stories about celebrities interest young
people more than hard news stories like congressional votes or
developments in Iraq.
One reason teenagers may pay less attention to news than
older Americans is only one in 20 young people rely heavily on
a daily newspaper, according to the survey, which had a margin
of error of 2 percent to 3 percent.
The poll was released amid tough times for many American
newspapers, with falling readership and advertising revenue.
Even the Internet, the preferred way for teenagers and
young adults to get news, is not stimulating interest in
current affairs, Patterson said. Internet-based news, receives
about the same attention from older adults as it does from
younger ones, the survey found.
"It is hard to pick up a newspaper and ignore that there is
a front page, but with the Internet it is easy to play games or
conduct a search without seeing news," said Patterson.
"On the Internet you have to make a deliberate choice to go
somewhere and we are finding that young people are not making
an appointment with news."
Teenagers and young adults are twice as likely to watch
television for their daily news, relying largely on the same
types of outlets as older Americans, the survey found. The only
difference is that older Americans are twice as likely to watch
television news regularly.