Civic Engagements among School Adolescents and the Roles of Parental Civic Socialization, School Experiences, and Social Media Use in Addis Ababa

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Addis Ababa University


This study examined how parental civic socialization, school civic experiences, and social media use, mediated by adolescents’ sense of community connectedness and perceived competence for civic action influenced civic engagement of school adolescents. The research employed Sequential Explanatory Design (QUAN-qual). Participants for the quantitative study were 1530 school adolescents aged 15-to-19-years (Mean age was 17.7) selected through multistage sampling procedures while 20 adolescents (10 with extreme high and 10 with extreme low civic engagement scores) for the qualitative strand. Structural equation modeling was used to investigate the direct and indirect (mediated) effects of parental civic socialization, school civic experiences and social media use, and independent and combined contributions of predictors on civic engagement. Quite a significant proportion (46.06%) of school adolescents had civic engagement scores below the mean (42) and 49.74% had scores above the mean. The majority of adolescents fall within moderate to high civic engagement levels. There was a significant sex differences in civic engagements, in favor of males. Sex as a predictor was significant, however; perceived parental socio-economic status and age did not significantly predict civic engagement. All the three independent variables were able to exert statistically significant positive direct and total indirect effects on civic engagement. The specific indirect (mediated) effects from parental civic socialization, school civic experience and social media use pass to civic engagement via adolescents’ perceived competence for civic action, but not through sense of community connectedness. All the predictors of civic engagement except sense of community connectedness reached level of significance and explained more than a quarter of its variance. The highest influence on civic engagement was exerted by parental civic socialization and adolescents’ social media use (pairwise) contributed the largest variance in civic engagement. Explanatory themes for high and low civic engagement included not mere level of presence or absence of same factors but also existence of certain unique environmental circumstances that exist in one and miss in another. For example, in high civic engagement adolescent groups, factors included open family environment for discussion; respect for each other’s ideas; concern about broader community matters; parental civic engagement emulated by adolescents; living in family who stand up for the rights of the most deprived; open classroom environment for discussion; and teachers respecting students’ ideas; being a member or a leader of district child parliament; and schools that promote volunteerism. Explanatory themes for low civic engagement, on the other hand, included absence of open family environment for discussion; lack of respect to other’s ideas; lack of proper parental civic modelling; being civically engaged perceived as violating cultural and religious values; low level of education and awareness on children’s rights; perceiving participation in adolescent-led parliaments exposes to risks; too young to participate in socio-political matters; fear of joining politics; and poor school performance leading to discrimination from participation. Implications for theory, practice, and research, and recommendations for future research were drawn.



Civic Engagements among School Adolescents and the Roles of Parental Civic Socialization