Between 2009 and 2019, Chile experienced the rise and fall of a powerful and influential environmental movement. This movement spurred massive protests against large-scale energy and mining projects, successfully blocking many of them. Although these demonstrations brought together people of all ages and backgrounds, youth were particularly active in advocating for the environment. As digital natives, young people may experiment with new ways of engaging in participatory actions, especially through social network sites, instant messaging and other social applications. We use data from the annual Youth, Participation, and Media Use surveys fielded between 2009 and 2019 to study the individual-level relationship between social media and environmental activism among young Chileans. As expected, we find that social media use is positively associated with participation in environmental issues. Nevertheless, this relationship is dynamic, gradually weakening over time. Thus, our results suggest that social media effects on environmental activism are contingent upon the specific stage of the protest cycle. We close with a discussion of the relevance of our findings as well as their limitations.
- Social media use