In our technological age, teens have more of a voice than ever before. And they can use their voices to help create positive social change.
Creating Teen Interest in Social Change
Some teens are naturally interested in the world around them. Others become involved in social issues because of events they are exposed to, or causes that affect them personally. However, other teens may be oblivious to the world around them, even to issues that will directly affect them in the future.
The best way to create interest in social change is by example. Parents and caregivers who are active in their communities are demonstrating meaningful ways to become involved. When parents are aware and well read on the current events and issues, conversations will naturally arise that will bring awareness to teens of what is going on in their community and the world, and how these issues will impact their lives.
Encouraging Appropriate Use of Social Media
One of the best ways that teens can get involved now on important issues is by using social media. Posting and reposting strong, powerful messages about the issues that matter to them helps to give teens a voice. The reactions to sharing their messages are visible and can encourage increased involvement in creating social change.
This gives teens a voice regardless of mental health, disability, or other challenges that might otherwise limit their participation. Seeing the positive results of sharing their opinions is empowering. Sharing their ideas and messages can help them become aware of the power of using their voice.
Teens should understand the risks of sharing opinions on social media. Social issues can often be inflammatory, resulting in negative responses and even online bullying. This can be particularly dangerous for teens who struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders. Abuse online can trigger or worsen symptoms and create long-lasting mental health issues. Advocating can be empowering, but it is the opposite of empowering when it creates negative side effects.
Empowering the Next Generation
Teens can be apathetic about the world around them or be very active in social issues. Guiding them and giving them the tools they need to succeed at navigating social change is a privilege as parents and caregivers. Giving them the knowledge and opportunities to participate in civic and social issues allows them to realize the voice and power that they have now and in the future.
Furthermore, learning to navigate the world on social media and in real life can teach them valuable life lessons about developing tolerance and accepting other viewpoints. Teaching them by example to educate themselves and vote and be active in their communities empowers them to become better citizens and to create social change now and in the future.
In summary, teens do not need to wait until they have the right to vote to create social change. With careful guidance and support from parents and caregivers, teens can become powerful voices in their communities and the world.