Mass Communication & Society vol:14 issue:5 pages:620-642
While sweeping statements about the effect of television viewing on political participation could still be found in the literature in the 1990s, it is now commonly held that the effect of television should be studied as a multi-dimensional phenomenon. Not only the time spent watching television but also the kinds of programs being watched and even the preference for particular stations are assumed to have an effect. In this article, we report on a survey among 6,330 Belgian adolescents allowing for a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between various dimensions of television viewing and political participation. We focus on adolescents, because research suggests that the decline in participation levels clearly manifests itself in this age group. The results of the analysis confirm a negative impact of the amount of television viewing, which is partly counterbalanced by a positive impact of a preference for information and for public broadcasting. We discuss the implications of these findings among adolescents for adult participation behavior.