Youth Activism


“In terms of personal development, identity, expression and their social consequences— participation, social capital, civic culture- these are the activities that serve to network today’s younger generation.”

The power of social media and the new digital era within our lives has re-defined the term of ‘social’, once limited to the need for interaction and companionship, to the ability to engage, create, participate and express ones beliefs and values. Traditional critics are blaming social media for promoting a “superficial engagement” amongst youth towards political activism. However, Henry Jenkins argues that the ability to share and create ideas on these digital platforms positively expands the avenues in which youth are able to investigate and explore the world of political participation.  

Social media sites including Facebook and Twitter promote the theory of ‘Participatory Culture’, which shifts the focus from one individuals expression towards community involvement. These sites encourage self expression due to the minimal barriers towards artistic expression and civic engagement (Jenkins, 2006)

The growth of youth activism online has been facilitated by the circumventing of traditional gatekeepers of current news and events. This has been achieved by the expansion of technology which has increased the efficiency in which information is produced and circulated. A prime example of this would be ‘KONY 2012’, a short film created by Invisible Children Inc. According to TIME Magazine ‘KONY 2012’ is the most viral video ever shared with over 99 million views (Wikipedia, 2014). The large success of the campaign was due to its exposure across multiple media platforms.


Young people today arn’t following in the same political foot steps. Our lives are exceptually mediated encouraging us to ‘chop and change’ our view points as a result of current trends. I believe, although it’s not a traditional method, social media encourages youth to participate and engage within youth activism. The open network design triggers the generation of self expression. A sense of community and inclusion is also comforting with teenagers especially, expressing the desire to ‘belong’ and therefore will share interests shown within their peers. The medium of social media has itself become the message of campaigns, expressing the evolving nature of politics, with traditional methods being pushed aside and our voices becoming the major source of technology that will influence a generation.

Jenkins, H, Clinton, K, Weigal, M 2006, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for 21st Century, Macarthur Foundation, Chicago, Illinois, viewed 15/5/2014,


Cohen, C, Kahne, J 2011, New Media and Youth Political Action, Participatory Politics, viewed 15/5/2014,

Jenkins, Henry. (2012). ‘The New Political Commons’. Options Politiques.

2014, Kony 2012, Wikipedia, 7 May 2014, 






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