Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Mobile News Consumption and Its Relation to Young Adults’ Knowledge About and Participation in Referendums

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Abstract:  The news media are among the most important sources of information about political events, such as referendums. For young adults, the smartphone has become the main device for accessing news. However, we know little about the factors influencing mobile news consumption and how this consumption is related to political knowledge and political participation. This study investigates the antecedents of young individuals’ smartphone news consumption and how it is correlated with their knowledge about and participation in two referendums in Switzerland. We record the mobile internet usage of 309 young adults and link their digital trace data to survey data. We show that trust in news media and the use of broadcast media are positively correlated with the duration of mobile news consumption. The use of social media leads to more news source diversity. However, we find that the duration of mobile news consumption and news source diversity are not correlated with political knowledge about or participation in the referendum. As interest in politics is also positively correlated with the diversity of news sources used by individual participants, our study supports the idea that attentive audiences use a broader range of news sources to inform themselves about referendums.

Keywords:  mobile news consumption; news media; referendum; political knowledge; political participation; young adults



© Daniel Vogler, Morley Weston, Quirin Ryffel, Adrian Rauchfleisch, Pascal Jürgens, Mark Eisenegger, Lisa Schwaiger, Urs Christen. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.