Youth Go Online to Save the World

Over the last few years, social media has become filled with young influencers out to make a change. Teens, such as Greta Thunberg (17), a Swedish advocate for climate change awareness, and Kheris Rogers (12) who started a clothing brand called Flexin’ in my Complexion to raise awareness about colorism.

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.

Longfellow’s students tend to be politically aware, so it is no surprise that some of them are also active on social media.

“‘I’ve shared a lot of information on multiple movements,” said Nora, an LMS Student. “BLM, women’s rights, and many more, and it has given me a better understanding of those movements.”

Social studies teacher Mr. Kellams listens to his students’ concerns and is thrilled to see them become engaged with the political process.

“Seeing young people protest for change has made me happy and seeing so many people pushing for a different world makes me proud,” said Mr. Kellams.

There are downsides to sharing your opinion, though.

Emma Gonzalez became a gun control advocate after surviving the shooting at her high school in Parkland, FL.

“Many times, it’s hard since there are people who will get mad at you or mock you for having a certain opinion,” said Nora.

Lots of people like to say negative things online, and no matter how strongly you feel about a cause, there are others who feel differently.  The people that think it is a bad idea or a poor choice aren’t shy about telling you so. Though sharing information can help to inform people, many may not agree with what others put online.

According to the Carrier Clinic, a healthcare website in New Jersey, teens and young adults are considered particularly at risk from negative effects. “They’re a generation raised on the internet, social media, and digital technology, so these things are integral, indispensable parts of their lives. Young people also are impressionable, eager for acceptance, and relatively inexperienced, which can cloud judgment.”

Kheris Rogers started her own clothing line at the age of 10 to combat racism and colorism.

Because of their youth and inexperience, it is critical to be careful about checking sources for the things they post, or they risk spreading misinformation. In addition, young people, especially those in middle school, should discuss their opinions and plans to post on social media with their parents, whose job it is to keep them safe.

“One of the most fundamental rights humans have is the ability to have, hold, and share their opinions,” said Mr. Kellams. “It doesn’t mean anyone has to agree, and in fact, disagreement and discussion is the messy process that gets things done.

Greta Thunberg has been traveling the world advocating for climate change.

With the events in the past year, many teens have downloaded social media apps over the last few months, and many of those are saying that before they had social media, they were not as informed on current world events. Lots of people think of social media as a bad place with bad people, but others see it as a community where we can all come together to voice our opinions.

According to Mr. Kellams, “Having a voice, and using it, is a choice. A choice everyone should be able to make.”