Politically Unaware Teenagers | Teen Ink

Politically Unaware Teenagers

February 16, 2011
By emagill2013 BRONZE, St. Louis Park, Minnesota
emagill2013 BRONZE, St. Louis Park, Minnesota
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Protests in Egypt? Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? Michelle Bachmann? The DREAM Act? Anyone?

The mention of these topics, all of which have recently been in the news, would get some crazy looks from most teenagers. They may claim to have heard these terms before, or ask what is being discussed, but they definitely would not be starting a lively debate on these topics.

They do not know and they simply do not care.

In the past few decades, teenagers have become increasingly politically unaware. Caught up in their busy lives, these students do not care to know what is going on in the world around them. While nuclear proliferation treaties are being signed to keep them alive, most teenagers would prefer to chat with their friends on Facebook than look up what the word ‘proliferation’ means.

A few days ago, I decided to question some of my peers about common news topics. A few some-what politically knowledgeable teenagers were able to respond with: “protests in Egypt”. Many others, however, could not name a single news topic, and the rare few responded with variations of, “Oh, I heard Lindsay Lohan is going back to court” or “Lady Gaga went to the Grammy’s in an egg”.

Unfortunately, this trend is not only among teenagers at my school. Across the country and around the world teenagers are disconnected from the political world they are living in, at a time when their attention is most crucial.

Instead of being politically aware, many teenagers listen to politics only when forced into a parent’s conversation. In fact, many teenagers’ first and only exposure to politics is through their parents, leaving them to adapt to their parents’ perspectives for lack of another. This is even though most have never actually had a full political discussion with their parents and may not fully understand their parents’ views, only leaving them to believe they know about politics while being even more unaware of reality.

As a teenager who will be voting in upcoming elections, I know that my vote will be cast only after long thought and watching many political debates. I hope to know that others my age will take their votes as seriously, but at this point cannot trust even the thought of them controlling our country with their ballots.

It is not possible to know everything that’s going on in the world, and I understand that. As we live in a society that is based on our wants and needs, however, we have learned that comprehending the world around us has little impact on our daily life. Despite this, teenagers need to take responsibility as incoming adults and should take the time to start paying attention to politics and our government.

It may be as simple as turning on the news every once in a while instead of a favorite television show, or tuning to NPR while in the car on the way to school once a week. Anything that is done to decrease the number of politically ignorant teenagers in our country will help them look to the future and keep the country in good hands.

At some point they must learn that there is more to life than Lindsay Lohan or Lady Gaga. Let’s hope it is sooner rather than later.

The author's comments:
I am in Speech at my school, specifically in a sector called Extemporaneous Speaking. While many others on my speech team try to be dramatic or funny, I try to convince the judge of my political views using facts and persuasive reasoning. Although I understand most politics in light of this activity, it baffled me to realize that many other teenagers my age have no sense of the political world they will be entering when suddenly 'becoming adults' at age 18. Hopefully, through this work readers will understand the necessity for teenagers to be politically aware through small steps and changes that can easily be implemented.

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This article has 2 comments.

Jack1234 said...
on Feb. 22 2011 at 5:29 pm
This is so true!  I totally see this everyday at my school and it is terrible.  You have a great writing style and I hope to see this in the upcoming magazine!

on Feb. 22 2011 at 5:17 pm
K.a.t.h.l.e.e.n. SILVER, Plymouth, Massachusetts
6 articles 0 photos 58 comments

Favorite Quote:
See everything, Overlook a lot, Correct a little.

I agree, but you are not alone! You and I are a few of the exceptions! However, if you filter through the pop culture pieces, you can find plenty of opinion articles on current events on this site, as you know. Not all is lost!  :)