Dec 14, 2018
By Izzy Falkovich
How young people’s digital activism is changing lives.
I’m a member of Generation Z—the population known for its obsession with avocados and addiction to social media. And even though most of my generation isn’t old enough to vote, many have become incredibly active in social and political issues through their constant digital connection. The perils of social media are well-covered, I also know how it can energize an entire generation because of how it has changed me.
I reached legal voting age during the last presidential election. Though I grew up in a politically apathetic household, I attend a university that hosted one of three presidential debates during the 2016 election cycle, which exposed me and my peers to the importance of being politically aware. But it was social media that gave me access to the news, opinions, and activities that made me want to be politically active because it allowed me to bear witness the advocacy of others in my generation (most notably the teens from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.).
I share this sentiment with millions of teens and young people. According to Viacom Global Insights, more than 95 percent of young people globally believe it’s important to collaborate with other young people to make the world a better place. In the U.S., more than 4 in 5 teens believe their age group has the potential to change the world for the better, and are 60% more likely to believe that the internet is more powerful than any government compared to teens just five years ago.
"4 in 5 teens believe their age group has the potential to change the world for the better"
Viacom Global Insights
Stef Woods, a professor of American Studies, American Culture and Digital Media at American University, says that the rise of social media is a leading reason why Gen Z has become so politically-minded. “Social media allows for so many more people to get involved, get involved in impactful ways, get involved in different ways”, she says. “As long as there's connectivity to the internet and literacy and a desire to participate someone can be involved in whatever cause or campaign or movement that they choose.