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Youth activists: youth participation in social change

The unresolved societal issues in the community require modern solutions from the contemporary age. Furthermore, the youth have a vital role and duty in enabling action in transforming society through new methods and platforms. Therefore, the youth should be given the platform to take part in the critical discussions of the community. Aside from the youth being able to voice their concerns and participate in meaningful conversations. 


The involvement of the youth shall enable them to develop their leadership skills that shall be beneficial in organizing important initiatives for the community. Today's youth possess different perspectives and methods of handling issues on the national and local scale, illustrating the evolution of activism in the modern world. With this, there must be an encouragement for the youth to be involved in civic engagements. There must be an adaptation to changes that happened throughout the years for participation to occur. 


Youth Activism is initiated through civic awareness and online and offline actions. Youth involvement varies in the contemporary age; hence, activism can be undertaken at home and in the community. The rise of social media allows a different version of activism that will enable individuals to be informed of the circumstances in their communities and convey their perspectives regarding the issues or even call for attention. Although offline actions are still acknowledged as one of the primary methods for activism, their new method should be adopted and recognized. 


The observation of society's current situation shall be one of the countless wake-up calls of the youth. It represents the harmful effects of the inaction on the community's welfare that lead them to question their apolitical characteristics and question the capabilities of the officials that oversee people endure various suffering. (Jenkins et al., 2018, p. 15; Burr, 1995, p.3) The public's concerns become the priority of the youth; thus, they shall be viewed as a constructed phenomenon that should be discussed and catered to by the people who have the means to receive the information because of the number of grievances people possess. (Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 2009, pp. 149-151; Spector & Kitsuse, 2000, pp. 699) 


This reality becomes the aspiration to seek social justice for youth activists. They aim to engage in meaningful discussions, humanize these issues, learn methods to distribute this information to the community, and gather recommendations or propositions to accomplish social changes. (Freire et al., 2000, pp. 1–3) The regular sight of those people suffering shall ignite empathy in the youth that would convince them to absorb options for the most influential group of people and work to construct these changes.  


Aside from the acknowledgment to engage through various issues in the community, McCall and Simmons (1967, p. 452) suggest that the formation of the adolescent's identity shall be molded through exploring different roles. Their relationship with multiple individuals, circumstances, and information shall become the young person's reference in self-conception. Moreover, Melucci (1996, p. 8) explained that by discovering one's identity, one would be able to recognize one path. A primary step towards adulthood; thus, the necessity to form a stable reflection of the self shall be viewed as significant that could impact the person's future. 


The membership of an institution or organization can contribute to the well-formed identity of a person since youngsters often social interact with other people, which can influence their perception and understanding of the world. (Postmes & Brunsting, 2002, pp. 294-295) This will reveal issues and problems in society, and the experience shall make individuals reflect on these issues that would motivate them to be a catalyst for change. With this, there is a need for the youth to develop their identities with the assistance of people with substantial experience, knowledge, and skills that would be beneficial to the young person's growth. 


     The power social media holds effectively emphasizes the sociopolitical problems through social connections between people and through the method of trending them on specific platforms. (Dookhoo, 2015, pp. 2-3) However, the increase in these social media use does not certify the progress of civic participation or result in political action since some creators control the algorithm for their beneficiaries; thus, there is a need to examine the platform to disseminate significant knowledge. (Couldry, 2010, p 148) 


On the other hand, the availability of digital networks allows individuals to access social media sites to express diverse sentiments and views on the current state of society; this can raise awareness of the public and government on the concerns of the community, which leads to the inquiry of adequate spaces and digital sites that are suitable for impactful political discourse. (Jenkins et al., 2018, p. 21) Social Media sites such as Facebook and Twitter permit persons to exchange ideas and information instantly and efficiently without common limitations, unlike the traditional medium. 


Nevertheless, the incomparable outcomes the conventional activism are used for the greater good because social media sites are not built for that kind of narrative but for the cause of creating or maintaining social ties with long-distance friends or acquaintances. (Gladwell, 2020) Naaman et al. (2011, p. 902) and Ginger (2008, p.13) explain that the conversation through these social media sites has a different procedure.


The social media means that aims to be utilized other than the reason it was created arise the concern whether these platforms can serve their purpose or there should be a need to formulate a new platform that is more suitable for the use of movement for sociopolitical change. For instance, Twitter interaction occurs through the hashtag annotation (symbol #) that allows individuals interested in a similar hot topic to interact and discuss it. In contrast, Facebook functions to make information about oneself and others, get to know strangers, and be a source of information. Hence, a platform to converse with others who post exciting discussions. 


The accessibility of essential information for the youth can help them develop concern for the situation of the society that will influence them to contribute and engage in societal-related discussion. Furthermore, it shall unify the youth to utilize their skills that can supply other necessities of an institution or group; thus, they would assist in accomplishing the goal. With this, it can be an avenue to form the civic identity of the individual, learn the procedure to contribute to society, and learn the relevance of one's action. (Kirshner, 2007, p. 373) 


Some institutions believed that providing information and educating individuals would permit well-informed citizens to engage and exercise their right to expression and discourse that would relay the concerns of the society through the means of utilizing the voice of the people and pressure the authority to act on the issue immediately. (Jenkins et al., 2018, p. 4) Political changes were enabled due to the social and political tools to create or compose alternatives for persons to engage in. (Castells, 2015). Media proved its benefits by disseminating information that circulated the knowledge online and offline spaces. 


In addition, this promotes civic participation from the youth since it aims to practice improving the current state of the society and strengthen collaboration to promote changes through various means in the virtual or offline realm (Jenkins et al., 2018, p. 19-38) The formation of a well-developed civic identity and skills of the youth shall be beneficial to ensure programs and activities that are planned for the direction to obtain the objectives of the action because the adolescents are trained to handle disturbance and difficulty that might arise when organizing the project. This allows young adults to become mature in managing a variety of situations. 


The social movements through online and offline methods would emphasize the need to provide solutions to the general issues of the community, hence, the need to inform and educate the public to cooperate and form a collective front, which should be one of the priorities. (Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 2009, p. 152) However, online activism does not guarantee the transition from online to offline action since users can bypass the information by simply scrolling; thus, it needs a robust and well-planned strategy by the collective focus of individuals to attain the goal of the initiative. (Girges, 2013, p. 71) In the context of cultivating one's skills in an organization or institution for the benefit of initiating events, every team member should assume a role to be able to arrange a project, event, and activity successfully. In addition, the collaboration and the division of roles shall become efficient when it comes to the effectiveness of the work because one is responsible for the online or offline system. (Kirshner, 2008, p. 79) 


Neverthelessbefore collaborating or leading a project, one should be transformed through the development of skills; therefore, mentorship and training become a necessity to have a profound grasp of the situation of the society before becoming an initiator of change. (Jenkins et al., 2018, p. 40) To be officially young political agents, one should embed and practice their knowledge and skills of societal matters in their everyday life (Kahne & Cohen, 2015). The challenge to encourage and involve the youth in the issues of society is difficult; hence, the need to identify concepts to transition them from socially and culturally active to active members of the community, both political and civic. (Jenkins et al., 2018, p.46)




Growth and improvements should be the predominant concern of the people to strengthen their

support and actors of change because the youth will become the leaders of the society. There is a need to educate and transform them into the best versions of citizens who would persevere obstacles and exert necessary efforts to better the community. 


The factors that influence the youth to engage in social actions are necessary to aid changes in the society from prominent issues since as the years progressed, it would be one of the motivators of the youth to learn, educate, and become skilled, reliable citizens of the country. Aside from that, different methods to advocate and disseminate such information are developed to create another platform for significant discussion. Still, inattentive pursuance of change through the new media can be inconsequential because it could be utilized to spread or promote harassment. It is a method to satisfy or comfort oneself that they contribute to society despite the lack of indicators for this conclusion. 


With this, the advancement from traditional media, advocacies, and campaigns might enable collaboration for offline initiatives between various youth groups that achieve sociopolitical changes only when acted accordingly. Furthermore, the primary step to allow changes would be to open a space for dialogue, mold and educate the youth, use the various means correctly, and guarantee that every initiative would translate to offline actions that would obtain measurable results. 



Photo Credit: Northeastern University Political Review

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Tags: #Change #Activism #YouthActivism #OnlineActivism #SocialChange #OfflineActivism #Youth


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