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The Internet Effect on the Youth Participation in Politics Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 7th, 2020

Abstract

Since the start of the internet boom, in the early nineties, there has been a significant growth in the number of networked people. In fact, the number of networked people has increased over the years from millions to billions by 2010. Development of the internet has created a formidable force that has increased the number of people who are able to access the internet. Indeed, social media has attracted many actors in the political sphere such as the youths. This research paper will establish the influence of the internet on the political participation among the youths in the United Arab Emirates. The research uses survey and questionnaire to establish this relationship.

Research background

Media has played a central part in the liberalisation of communication across the global village. Through the media, exchange of information has not only become easier but also efficient. By a click of a button, an interested party may be in a position to pass important information to as many recipients as possible. As the world steadily embraces the use of internet, youths are not left behind (Burton, 2009).

These youths communicate and use internet to interact with peers and comments on political issues affecting the society. Often, internet use among youths is beneficial as they dedicate time in blogs with those they perceive as equals and members of the youth culture. The prime principle is featured by interconnected holistic phenomenon. The conscientious citizenship need to perceive the global interrelationship with inclusive model of integration through the youth culture (Bodapati, 2004; McChesney, 2004).

The world is manifested with emergence of mass society in terms of social interaction, that is, mass culture, mass welfare, mass consumerism, mass communication, and numerical sense of unique population increase. In order to understand the current research on this multi-faceted topic, experimental study design is the best method to adopt since it inquires to establish a quantifiable relationship between variables.

The aim of a culture is to build social work strategy and practical matters, provide rapid support to social problems, sustain social programs to offer relevant resolutions to social crises in communities, hold up growth through promotion of education to tackle crucial life matters, and advance suitable relevance of new technology for performance of social media (Calenda and Meijer, 2009).

Reflectively, to enable a clear understanding of the effects of social media on youths, the source of media reference in this paper dwells on the internet use among youths which has surpassed other means of communication (Burton, 2009; Shaffer, 2008; McChesney, 2004). In the last decade, many scholars and media consultants have come up with the open idiom ‘internet communication ‘to represent the substantially declining use of face-to-face model of communication assumed to be traditional among youths (Ott and Leverette, 2009; Kumar and Kanchu, 2012).

Due to the entry of technological advancement in the world today, internet has been the most common means of social media communication among youths. In fact, more than 59% of United Arabs Emirates families’ youths have access to the internet and are literate in its use (Al-Jenabi, 2008). The results from this study will indicate the actual position of the impact of internet on youth participation on political discussion in the UAE as a focus on a specific region, unlike the previous general researches.

This reflective treatise attempts to explicitly applaud on the modes and behavioural patterns observed across the gender divide and how the same can be related to internet culture among socialising agents, who are the Saudi Arabia youths. These agents are drawn from different cultural divides, gender, age, and exposure to the internet. In the process, this study attempts to openly analyse the effects of social media on political participation among the youths of United Arabs Emirates (UAE). The research will carried out through survey targeting 100 youth participants who are frequent users of social media to comment on political affairs in the UAE.

Research Question

What is the impact of the internet on youth participation in political discussions within the United Arab Emirates?

Rationale for methodology used

Based on the research background and focus group, a self structured questionnaire and direct interviews will become imperative.

Questionnaire

The questionnaire will be prepared to use 5- point Likert scale (Anderson, 2004). The target respondents will express a broad range of opinions on the key issues in discussion. The use of the structured questionnaire was inspired by cost effectiveness and relative convince of the method.

Strengths

  1. It is cost effective.
  2. It provides anonymity to the user and thus gives more honest responses.
  3. Information can be gathered from a large number of people.
  4. The results are easily analysed and quantified.
  5. Since the questions are uniform and if conditions under which they are answered are controlled, then information gathered is standardised.

Weaknesses

  1. It is not possible to explain to the respondents any point that they may misinterpret in a question. Giving a pilot test to a few respondents could partially solve this.
  2. It is possible for a respondent to be dishonest in case they do not feel comfortable. Assuring the respondent of their privacy can minimise this.
  3. Respondents can be superficial especially if they feel the questionnaire is wasting their time. Creating an environment where they do not feel inconvenienced could solve this.

To minimise the above weaknesses, the questionnaire design will use a simple language that is understood by both parties. The time for completion will be reasonable and designed to identify the target population so as to yield useful data for the research analysis and interpretation (Bell, 2003; De-Rada, 2005).

Interviews

Adopting semi-structured open-ended and closed-ended questions interview, data collection through one-on-one interview is critical considering the scope of the research topic. The process of a one-on-one interview will involve scheduling a meeting between the interviewer and each interviewee at a time.

Advantages

  1. The choice of one-on-one interview is based on the rationale of gaining insight on feelings, opinion, and experiences.
  2. Moreover, the semi structured interviews give room for further probe depending on nature of data collected.
  3. This method is easy to apply and allow direct interaction with the informant. Besides, these meetings are not complex to arrange since each of them involve the informant and the interviewer.

Disadvantages

  1. Interview is tedious and time consuming.
  2. Interview findings may be biased if the interviewer and the interviewee do not read from the same page.

Since the researcher is expected to accord the research project professional seriousness, the willing respondents are likely to give reliable, credible, and informed responses to questions asked (Anderson, 2004).

Methodology

Research approach

This research will be conducted using research survey study approach. Data that will be collected through one-on-one interviews will be scrutinised in detail. Through open-ended and closed-ended structure, each question asked will be comprehensive to ensure that respondents have opportunity to give deep answers that provide an insight into research problem solution.

Transcription will then be done to each of the recorded interview process. For each response, from each participant, the recorded transcripts will be perused to coin relevant and most appropriate response. Factually, instances of divergent or convergent opinions by one or more respondents will be marked appropriately (Kothari, 2004).

In order to collect the data necessary for this study, several steps will be taken to ensure that appropriate care is taken to protect the participants. The participants will be given consent forms which outlined the topic of discussion and any relevant information that each participant might need before agreeing to be interviewed (Denscombe, 2002). Once consent is obtained, interviews will set up with the selected participants, in which the author of this study will act as the interlocutor with the participant. The interviewer will give semi-structured individual interviews that will be conducted in the English language so that communication is given depth (Jackson, Bryant, and Smallwood, 2006).

Research Samples

Sampling

This research will target 100 young Saudi Arabians who are frequent users of the internet to communicate their political opinions through blogs. The sampling criterion that will be used in the initial sampling plan represents the true picture of the activities on the ground. To begin with, the sampling plan considers several young participants from across the UAE. Adaptation of this sample plan as authentic would not compromise the aspect of comparative study in decision making, that is, it gives room for comparison to another set of data.

Generalisation and vigour

This sample chosen for the survey presents a clear, scientific, and verifiable criterion for systematic analysis. Putting into consideration of the above strengths, this is ideal since it is representative of the sample space chosen randomly within a specified interval. Reflectively, this will permit comparative research especially when qualitative design is adopted to give room for testing accuracy and degree of biasness.

In this qualitative study, the researcher will have the opportunity to get the perspective of the participants. Utilising these experiences as a framework from which to develop the study, the work is likely to reflect the unique understanding that the personal experiences bring to the development of case studies (Bell, 2003; Mason, 2005). The interviews will be conducted by the researcher because of common characteristics of culture, age, online activities, and country.

Research ‘operationalisation’

The mixture of questionnaire and direct interview will present a number of pre-specified competencies and best practices based on findings from a review of literature. The participants will be asked to indicate which of the internet practices they use or rely on most. The researcher will send the questionnaires to the targeted participants and schedule direct interview with those who are flexible and can afford a fifteen minutes break to answer the interview questions.

In the collection of data procedure, the research will adopt a drop and pick module for the sample population. Each respondent will be given a time frame of a week to respond to questions in the questionnaire. Where necessary, further clarification will be accorded to participants (Mugenda and Mugenda, 2003).

Ethical considerations

During the data collection phase of this study, the researcher will strive to uphold ethics appertaining to scientific research. This will be pursued through inclusion of an informed consent form in the interview and questionnaire which the units being studied will be required to read understand and consent to before the study commences. Additionally, authorisation for conduction of this study will be sought from relevant authorities to ensure transparency. Similarly, the researcher will ensure confidentiality of the subjects included in this study by insisting on their anonymity, where each subject will be identified using a unique as opposed to use of names. The data collected will not be used for any other purpose rather than the primarily intention (Silverman, 2010).

Piloting the research

In order to test the effectiveness of proposed research methodology, a piloting study was carried out involving ten randomly picked participants from the sample group. The participants were picked on the basis of gender, age, and location. The results of the piloted study are discussed in the next chapter.

Analysis and Results

The pilot study carried out represents 10 percent of the population of the study. This is necessary as a precaution against using a data collection tool in full research before determining its relevance and efficiency. After the pre-testing procedure, the most appropriate research tool was noted to be the questionnaire. The response rate was 100%. All the respondents filled their questionnaire survey forms on time. This is summarised in appendix 3.

From the pilot study, it is apparent that the mixture of questionnaire and direct interview present a number of pre-specified competencies and best practices based on findings from a review of literature. Some basic information requested to identify demographic characteristics, the sample, and to confirm eligibility of respondents indicated that the research methodology is within the scope of the study.

The structure and questions were appropriate since all the participants did not have difficulty in filling any of them. Therefore, the large scale questionnaire survey for the quantitative phase during the actual study will help to identify the competencies among the participants. The interviews will help focus on actual methods used based the scope of the research. The response rate distribution was above average (Sweetman and Knowles, 2004).

Generally, the collected data during the actual study will be coded and passed through Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version seventeen. In the process, cross tabulation will be used to compare and contrast perception on the relationship between internet usage and interest in political issues among the youths in the United Arab Emirates. In order to quantify the relationship between the independent and dependent variable, ANOVA will be essential besides figures, charts, and tabular representation of correlation analysis (Anderson, 2004).

Discussion

From the findings of the pilot study, use of the qualitative research approach will facilitate understanding of the individual perception on the relationship between internet use and youth participation in political issues in the UAE. Attributes of the subjects under study will be successfully studied through direct participation where the researcher will collect data using an observation schedule, during the interview process. This will allow the researcher to enter observed qualitative behaviour indicative of the impacts of internet on youth’s political participation in the UAE.

Quantitative methods used in this study will generally apply in the analysis of the collected data where analytical tools such as correlation methodologies will be applied. These methodologies will help in identification of statistical patterns in the data collected about the impacts of internet in youth’s political participation in the UAE, using questionnaires and interviews. For interviews, as long as an interviewee agrees to be recorded, the interview will be recorded. This will ensure that all points made by the interviewee are documented and available for consideration in analysis.

The evaluation methodology will be used in completing this paper. The research design will be a mixed-methods blueprint, emphasizing on strategies from a qualitative model, including the importance of observation, the quality of the evaluation in context, and the use of subjective human interpretation in the evaluation process. The theory used in this evaluation will be the relationship between internet communication and level of political participation among the youths in Saudi Arabia.

The global world is built with many diverse flows, that is, organisational interaction flow, capital flow, symbols, image and sound flow, technological flow and information flow. For instance, media flow has become a vital tool and a unique way of expressing information on political views among the young Saudi Arabians (Preiss, 2007). Emergence of the internet has offered an immediate solution for the need to maintain this velocity, volume, and direction among these youths on political discourse through active blogs. It is important to verify the authenticity of this finding during the actual study (Calenda and Meijer, 2009).

Another strategy that will be used in this research involves the participant-oriented model, which emphasizes the central importance of the participant evaluation through the use of a survey. The quantitative analysis is based on a number of statistical assumptions. The first assumption is that the data for each respondent will be assumed to be nearly normal. This will be observed in the histograms drawn from the results of the responses. The second assumption is that the standard deviations of each group are nearly equal. This is revealed by the rule of thumb that the ratio of the least to the biggest sample should be less than 2:1. Therefore, when carrying out data analysis, it will be is important to test whether the two assumptions are satisfied before using the data.

Conclusion

Conclusively, from the above pilot study, it is important to establish the relationship between internet communication and level of political participation among the youths in the UAE. The findings of the study may facilitate accurate prediction of the impacts of the internet communication towards identifying and addressing the social concerns in the society. This research will be conducted using research survey study approach. The choice of one-on-one interview was based on the rationale of gaining insight on feelings, opinion, and experiences of the respondents on the internet.

This method is easy to apply and allow direct interaction with the informant. Besides, these meetings are not complex to arrange since each of them involve the informant and the interviewer. The questionnaire to be use has questions which are uniform and if conditions under which they are answered are controlled, then information gathered will be standardised. Therefore, the large scale questionnaire survey for the quantitative phase during the actual study will help to identify the competencies among the participants.

The research will strive to uphold research ethics. The researcher will ensure confidentiality of the subjects included in the study by insisting on their anonymity where each subject will be identified using a unique as opposed to use of names. From the pilot study, it is apparent that the mixture of questionnaire and direct interview present a number of pre-specified competencies and best practices based on findings from the background of the proposed study.

Reference List

Al-Jenabi, B 2008, “Use of social media in the United Arabs Emirates: An initial study”, Global Media Journal, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 3-27.

Anderson, V 2004, Approaches to gathering data in research, CIPD, London, UK.

Bell, J 2003, Doing your research project: A guide for first time researchers in education, health and social science, Open University Press, Buckingham, UK.

Bodapati, V 2004, “Recommendation Systems,” in Working Paper, Anderson School of Management, UCLA.

Burton, G 2009, Media and Society: Critical Perspectives, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY.

Calenda,D., & Meijer, A 2009, “Young people, the Internet and Political Participation”, Information, Communication and Society, vol. 12 no. 6, pp. 879-898.

Denscombe, M 2002, Ethics: Ground rules for good research, Open University, Buckingham, UK.

De-Rada, V 2005, “Influences of questionnaire design on response to mail surveys”, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, vol. 8 no. 1, pp. 61-78.

Jackson, A., Bryant, A., & Smallwood, A 2006, “IMing, Text Messaging, and Adolescent Social Networks,” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol. 3 no.11, pp. 577–592.

Kothari, C 2004, Research methodology: Methods and techniques, New Age International (P) Limited Publishers, New Delhi, India.

Kumar, M., & Kanchu, T 2012, “Customer relationship management with reference to Business,” The Electronic Journal on Information Systems in Developing Countries, vol. 36 no. 8, pp. 1-31.

Mason, J 2005, Designing qualitative research, Sage, London, UK.

McChesney, R 2004, New Global Media: The Global Transformations Reader: An Introduction to the Globalization Debate, Polity, Cambridge, UK.

Mugenda, M., and Mugenda, G 2003, Research methods: Quantitative and qualitative approaches, Acts Press, Nairobi.

Ott, B., and Leverette, M 2009, Critical Media Studies: An Introduction, John Wiley and Sons, London, UK.

Preiss, R 2007, Mass media effects research: advances through meta-analysis, Routledge, New York, NY.

Shaffer, D 2008, Social and Personality Development,Cengage Learning, Alabama, Al.

Silverman, D 2010, Doing qualitative research: a practical handbook, Sages, Los Angeles, LA.

Sweetman, P., and Knowles, C 2004, Picturing the Social Landscape: Visual Methods in the Sociological Imagination, Routledge, New York, NY.

Appendix 1: Research timeline

Research timeline

Appendix 2: The research questionnaire/interview

1. Personal Information

Personal Information Name:
City/Town:
Region :

2. What is your gender?

3. What is your age?

4. Have you communicated with a leader before over the social media?

5. Specify the nature of your communication

6. Are you active on social media?

7. What’s your favourite social media platform?

8. Which form of social media communication do you prefer when communicating with a leader? Please specify the reason in the box below.

Appendix 3: Pilot study responses

Questions Respondent 1 Respondent 2 Respondent 3
2 Male Female Male
3 21 years 23 years 22 years
4 Yes Yes Yes
5 Twitter Twitter Facebook
6 Yes Yes Yes
7 YouTube Twitter Instagram
8 YouTube: Easy to use. Most leaders have twitter accounts. Twitter: Very popular. Most people have access to this site. Instagram: You can personalise the conversation. I can directly post a comment on the page of the leader.
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