New media have been widely credited with providing a forum for young people to voice their opinions. To understand why the new media are such a powerful draw, we conducted a mixed-method study among youth in seven media markets. The methodology was replicated with little to no adaptation across selected countries. The study employed a suite of research methods from a large-scale national survey to expert interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic observations. While the new media did not turn youth into political activists overnight, they did make them more responsive to the world around them, and in times of crisis, more politically or socially active. The study served as a useful background for 'situating' findings from follow up digital research in selected countries.