SciFest National Final 2023

Stand 10

Where is the Truth: The Effects of Media Propaganda on Young People in Ireland

Student Cathal Barry
School Blackwater Community School, Ballyanchor Road, Lismore, Co. Waterford
Teacher Danielle Murphy
Venue SETU Waterford

The rise of social media has had a devastating and unintended consequence: a new rise of propaganda. People are becoming more polarised, hatred is running higher, and false information is constantly being spread. It has never been easier for anyone, anywhere, to contribute to this. Young people, with their impressionable minds and heavy use of social media, are most vulnerable to this and, if not sorted soon, it will have a terrible effect on the political landscape of the future. I hypothesised that young people were indeed affected by propaganda and their use of social media would cause them difficulty in recognising propaganda.

I scoured the internet for real propaganda for use in my survey and found propaganda from sources like the Russian Defence Ministry and far-right website Humans-Be-Free. I carried out extensive surveying of over 850 students asking a range of questions about their news sources, social media usage as well as their age and the importance they attach to the issue of propaganda. I also included questions which would gauge the participants’ reactions to propaganda, and this was where the survey was split into two groups: a treatment group which was shown propaganda, and a control group which was shown regular news. I then cross-tabulated various questions and carried out extensive statistical analysis and statistical significance testing.

I have multiple conclusions, including that young people are indeed most vulnerable to propaganda, despite being fully aware of the issue that faces them, with 84% of participants describing social media as the least trustworthy source.

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SciFest National Final 2023
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