Concern Rises Over Teens’ Political Awareness

Sabrina Abesamis, Opinion Editor

These days it seems as though the apocalypse is just around the corner. With dwindling resources and a disastrous job market, concern is rising over the new generation that will inherit many of these social problems. A majority of teens have focused their attention on reality TV and social networking, even though these are the days where a new, politically-aware and socially-mindful generation is needed the most. It is imperative for teenagers to become more involved in the world they will soon inherit from their parents, including its many problems.

A shift in priorities can be seen right here at Wellington High, where the Young Republicans and Young Democrats clubs have been dissolved within the past two years due to lack of members. Explanations for this include the fact that most students can not vote yet; politics is not interesting nor comprehensible; and they prefer to focus on activities that offer instant gratification rather than the far reaching benefits of being politically aware.

“Even in school elections, people aren’t nearly as involved or even interested or take the time to find out,” Mrs. Varvarigos, sponsor of the Student Government Association, said. Varvarigos stated she had seen a decrease in political interest in teens in general, citing the lack of turnout for freshman elections this year.

Despite this year’s freshman class, about 700, being the largest ever for the school, only about 15% actually participated in elections. SGA had hoped that the new shift to online voting would encourage a higher rate.

In contrast, Mr. Gaba, coach ofWellington’s speech and debate team, believes political awareness in teens has actually risen. “I think part of it is the advent of technology, the Internet in particular,” Gaba said, who observes that the increase in availability and accessibility to the web has contributed to a growth in political interest. In a 2008 Pew Internet survey, about 64% of teens claimed they found information on current events and political issues online.

Indeed, it seems as though the best source to speak about this issue is teens themselves. “Young people are typically hind-sighted, focusing on past mistakes in politics instead of learning and growing from them,” Valeria Alfaro, sophomore, said. “Teenagers just sit back, focus on… their own preoccupations, and then typically end up complaining about our country’s status.”

“We’re going be the ones that will have to step up in a few years,” Stephanie Maravankin, sophomore and co-president of public forum debate, said. She worries that her generation will be ill-prepared for the problems facing them in the future.

Only time will tell whether teenagers these days will make the necessary changes to rise up and take charge in this world, hopefully steering it into a better, brighter future.