Politically Charged Teens Defy Expectations


Courtesy of Cristian Lazzari

Sabrina Abesamis, Opinion Editor

“Our youth now love luxury…They have bad manners, contempt for authority…They contradict their parents and tyrannize their teachers.” Many consider this an accurate depiction of my generation these days, and this quote basically summarizes what many adults perceive as an alarming trend of disrespect and apathy among teens.

   A Recurring Error
However, this quote is actually attributed to Socrates, meaning that these common beliefs have been held since Ancient Rome. There always seems to be a common misconception that the current generation is worse than the previous, most recently with members of the latter criticizing Millennials for political apathy. But the notion is subjective and flat out false. Though there are always the occasional cynics, the overgeneralization that today’s high schoolers are all selfish and indifferent to domestic and foreign affairs is wildly exaggerated. Selective memories seem to be plaguing nostalgic adults these days because America is not experiencing a downward spiral in civic virtue among teens.

            Improving in Teen Engagement in Politics

            In regards to behavior, today’s high schoolers have surpassed their parents in many aspects, with crime, drug use, and pregnancy dropping significantly since the 1980s, according to the University of Michigan. Moreover, teens are more educated and more aware than previous generations, correlating with our higher college attendance rates. This rise in education in behavior has all contributed to an involvement in politics, with a solid 72% of young adults saying they follow public affairs, as reported by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

            The Rise of Technology in Politics

            Perhaps most of all, the biggest contributor to teens continued interest in politics is technology. High schoolers these days have increasingly been called the Facebook generation. I can barely remember a time when I didn’t have a computer at my house. Now the Internet, social networking, and smart phones are practically a way of life. And while these may be used for purely social means, this technology has also opened up new avenues for teens to get involved. And studies show that we are taking them. We are now exposed to more of political news and, more importantly, to different sides of the same story. With Web diversity, teens have been able to learn and grow in a politically charged world, defying not just expectations but surpassing their parents as well. Socrates would be proud.