Modern politics has strong young voices


Students around the country have gotten more involved in social and political protests in the past few years than ever before.

By Maddie Galligan '18, News Edtior

Whether it’s the latest trending hashtag on Twitter or a protest in front of the White House, there are signs of activism everywhere. It’s not just commonplace to find young adults and teenagers participating in political efforts—sometimes, they’re the ones pushing ahead of adults and taking the lead.

Today’s youth is more educated about current events and more involved in politics than past generations. “They are the best-educated generation of Americans yet, and they have nearly infinite information available at their fingertips: almost all use a smart phone,” according to a 2015 PBS article by Connie Cass.

Students directly affected by the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., teens such as Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, have spoken at marches and directly engaged with important political figures and representatives from the NRA.

Their greater involvement in politics is probably due to the fact that today’s youth is way more connected via technology and social media. This makes them more in the know about important events going on around the world.

This decade is also considered by some to be the golden age of college student activism. UC Berkeley students protested a scheduled speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, a critic of Islam, political correctness and social justice, in February. A long-running study by the college found that one in 10 students expected to be involved in some kind of protest during their college years. This statistic is the highest that the survey has ever recorded.

Social media is used as a platform for many teens to voice their political opinions. Emma Gonzalez turned to Twitter after the Parkland shooting to update her followers on forthcoming events and movements related to the shooting. She now has more followers on the site than the NRA does at 1.4 million.

The Parkland shooting has inspired high school students from the area to get involved in politics because they feel it is the only way to be heard.

West Essex held a walkout organized by more than 20 students in remembrance of the victims of the Parkland shooting on March 14.

“The students who organized it did a good job about keeping it about remembering the victims rather than making any polarizing political statements,” senior Sam Adams said.

Young people who participate politically in their community from early on are more likely to become engaged citizens and voters according to the worldwide activist organization Global Young Voices. But young people’s role in society begins long before they can cast a ballot. Many young people contribute to their communities and society in ways that are different from voting. And such activity is developmentally important to teens.

This helps young people feel a sense of purpose and connectedness. Civic activity also allows teens to develop communication and critical thinking skills.