I have almost always had an interest in politics, starting from the young age of nine. I frequently needed to know what was going on in my country, the United States of America. I made myself familiar with the presidential candidates, and even though I didn’t fully understand all the prevalent issues, I did my best to educate myself. Today, at age sixteen, my passion for politics still exists, and it has grown tremendously. I remember several instances when I would ask my peers, or friends, about their views on certain topics, and several times I was met with responses like “I don’t care about politics” or “it doesn’t matter to me.” It was initially shocking to me that people my age could simply not care about what was going on in the world around them. However, the more I asked others about politics, the more I realized how common it was for teenagers to not care at all. This mindset is extremely harmful to democracy. Teenagers must care about politics, and it’s just not an option to be indifferent.
Teenagers are at most five years from being able to vote, and many of them already can. As soon as you turn eighteen, you have a duty as an American citizen to register to vote, and then actively participate in elections. This is why it’s extremely important to educate yourself early on, so that by the time you are able to vote, you have a good grasp of issues that are important and relevant. Teenagers today are a part of Generation Z, which has been labelled as the most accepting and progressive generation in history. We hold the future of the country in our hands. The youth makes up a significant portion of America, and therefore our votes can have a huge influence on the results of elections. It’s important to vote and be a part of creating change and fixing problems in America, ones that older politicians refuse to. It’s vital to elect politicians we believe represent our generation and fight for change, and this can only happen if more of the youth vote. Ultimately, more teenagers need to be involved and educated in politics from a young age.
According to childtrends.org, “from 1972 to 2016, the proportion of youth ages 18 to 24 who reported voting in presidential elections decreased from 50 to 39 percent.” This statistic is evidence that the younger generation isn’t as passionate about politics as they were in the past. It is necessary to acknowledge that this is a problem, one that we need to work towards fixing in the foreseeable future. Schools and parents should set a standard by emphasizing the importance of educating oneself about politics. While this is on a bigger scale of change, there are so many ways for teenagers to involve themselves. You don’t always need to read textbooks and countless articles. You certainly don’t need to become the next senator, governor, or president of the USA. You do, however, need to be educated enough to vote. Educating yourself through social media is a great way to become aware of youth politics, and get the information in an easy to understand way.
Generation Z has taken over social media when it comes to politics, with many teenagers creating political platforms with the purpose of educating their viewers. On apps such as TikTok, politics has become increasingly widespread in the past year. There are many political creators, with a wide range of views, and more and more people are drawn into politics each day. I interviewed Yana and Arya, creators behind the TikTok account Explained Simply, which has gained almost eight thousand followers. Both their account, and their podcast, is dedicated to educating others about important issues such as Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ+ community, etc. When I asked how they first got into politics, Yana responded with, “I’m going to be 18 soon, in about a year, and a lot of my friends are turning 18 in just a couple of months, and I know how important it is to educate myself thoroughly before I vote. I also immigrated to the United States, so I realize how much of a privilege it is to be able to vote for the changes I want to see in my society so I think that also influenced me to be more involved in politics.” This is a great reason why teens should be more politically aware, because, like Yana said, it is a privilege to be able to influence change in your country. I also asked them about what advice they have for teens who want to get into politics. “The first thing you should do when getting into politics is to learn the opinions of those around you…When you’ve kinda settled on a direction, you should go to local news sources. I don’t get any information from CNN or FOX news,” for reasons such as bias, “and instead credible sources like Penn State, Washington Post, New York Times, etc.” Arya explained. This is important as well, as finding information from non biased sources can help you form your own opinion.
As you can see, educating yourself is as simple as that! These two teens managed to create a political platform and educate thousands of others with it. There are so many other young kids doing the same. Whether you go as far as building a platform, or even just educating yourself briefly on important issues, it doesn’t matter. All that’s important is that you put in the effort to get into politics and form your own opinions. Politics may be boring sometimes, and it’s not always fun, but it is extremely vital. Teenagers are the future of this country, and soon most of us will be able to vote. It’s our job to shape America into the country we want it to be, and to fix the injustices occurring now for the future generations. There’s so much change to be made, and the statement “I don’t care about politics” isn’t acceptable. It’s time to start caring, and it’s time to start educating, and hopefully the younger generation can be the change this country so desperately needs.
Transcriber, writor, editor
Anika is a sixteen year old junior at Novi High School with a strong interest in business. Some of her hobbies include traveling, playing the piano, and reading. She is an active member of her school, and is apart of clubs such as Student Council and DECA. She’s passionate about racial equality and feminism especially, and hopes to work towards ending racism in America.