Connected, but are they engaged? Exploring young adults’ willingness to engage online and off-line




Generation Z, young Millennials, social media, engagement and activism, TAM and perceived technological affordances, social influence


Past research has been inconsistent about how awareness and social activism influence young adults’ likelihood of virtual or in-person engagement. The present study thus conducted a national survey of young adults to examine further how social media use, attitudes toward technology, civic-mindedness, social norms, and other factors influence digital engagement, and if online behaviors translate to a willingness to partake in off-line activities supporting a cause. Overall, the findings reveal social media increases awareness of issues, young adults engage and connect with others about social issues online, and perceive positive outcome expectations for social good online. More importantly, this research indicates that young adults are willing to engage online for social causes, and these behaviors are starting to translate to engagement off-line. The study findings also provide important implications for NPOs and advocacy groups on how to design messages for social media advocating specific conditions for people to partake in social activism for the greater good.

Author Biographies

Michelle Seelig, University of Miami

Michelle Seelig is Associate Professor at the University of Miami in the Department of Interactive Media, where she teaches courses in interactive media, Internet and media activism, communication theory, and qualitative research methods. Her research focuses extensively on visual and interactive media, particularly how digital and social media enriches the publics’ understanding of environmental and social issues that translates activism online into offline actions.

Huixin Deng, University of Miami

Huixin Deng is a doctoral candidate in the School of Communication at the University of Miami.




How to Cite

Seelig, M., & Deng, H. (2022). Connected, but are they engaged? Exploring young adults’ willingness to engage online and off-line. First Monday, 27(3).