Author (Your Name)

Natalie DavidsonFollow

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Government Dept.


Tizoc Chavez

Second Advisor

Carrie LeVan


Over the past decade, exposure to various forms of political content on social media, as well as social media usage for political means, has been studied by scholars as a link to predicting offline political participation by social media users. While evidence has been gathered that categorizes activity on the platforms of Facebook and Twitter as potential influencers and predictors of offline political behavior, the literature on the political relevance of Instagram as a predictor of offline political participation has yet to be fully explored. Additionally, although younger generations have historically participated in some forms of political behavior (particularly voting) to a lesser extent than older generations, recent data has shown that the number of active voting adults within Gen Z has increased immensely since the 2016 election, in addition to a larger portion of this generation being able to vote simply because of turning 18 years of age. In this thesis, I look at the effects of exposure to political content on Instagram, as well as the effect of active political participation within the Instagram app, on offline political participation by Instagram users, specifically of a young demographic: those aged 18-24, or those who would be categorized under the “Generation Z” label. I conduct a survey of young people aged 18-24 and question them on their use of Instagram, and also on their offline political behavior. My results demonstrate the value of Instagram as a platform on which to share political ideas that hold significant power to spur those already engaged with the app to take political action in an offline setting and presents implications for the future about what news sources the younger generations will turn for information that will, in turn, predict how they participate in the United States’ democracy.


Politics, Social Media, Instagram, Voting, Participation, Generation Z

Natalie Davidson