Digital Activism: How Teens Are Taking Action

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Mayako F. (10)

A student receives a climate change march notification.

Mayako F. (10)

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That’s all it takes to set off a chain reaction where information is automatically transmitted to anyone who possesses a digital device. The emergence of social media has changed the way we receive and respond to information. We no longer have to reach for a newspaper or even turn on the cable news; instead, all information is at our fingertips and is constantly circulating around us in the form of videos, photos, and infinite streams of hashtags. 

“We care.” This is Generation Z’s response to political and social injustice issues. 

Generation Z, which refers to people who were born from 1995 onwards, is becoming more conscious of global topics. Previously, discussing topics that did not personally affect a teen’s life was considered to be “adult talk”, and thought to be rather dull and tedious. Today, however, instead of absent-mindedly accepting the status quo, teenagers are fighting to have their voices heard. As teens nowadays would say,  the world is now more “woke” than ever.

We were able to witness the powerful impact of digital activism in teenagers on September 23 2019, when Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg gave a speech at the U.N.’s Climate Action Summit in New York City. Spurred to action by the words of the 16-year-old climate activist, children around the world became aware of the dire condition of the planet and began to address climate change with urgency. 

Today, with over 8 million Instagram followers, Greta Thunberg’s voice continues to be heard by millions of people worldwide. Celebrities, popular and influential figures amongst teenagers such as Chris Hemsworth, Cara Delevingne, and Leonardo DiCaprio, have been reposting Thunberg’s speech on their Instagram accounts and are encouraging their fans to watch and repost.

 Greta Thunberg is also well known as the founder of the international environmental conservation campaign, FridaysForFuture. This campaign can be accessed easily on popular social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. By following this account, followers are updated with information about the next global student-led climate marches. Additional information about climate change is also covered on their homepage, which includes a timeline of Earth’s average temperature and basic climate facts. Greta Thunberg’s voice is reaching millions of people through social media, helping them to stand up and take action in their communities. 

Currently, there are many communities of activists who have created social media accounts to promote causes such as racial equality, LGBTQ+ rights, feminism, and eco-friendly lifestyles. Earthandteens is an Instagram account based in Tokyo that was founded by two environmentally passionate high schoolers who wanted to inform students on climate crisis facts and update them on upcoming climate marches in Japan. 

By observing how the majority of teens use Instagram, the two students decided that Instagram was the optimal platform to educate people on climate change. To reach a wider audience, they are working towards making their account bilingual so that both Japanese and English speakers can participate and connect with each other.  

Social media is jam-packed with information which is constantly being shared and scrutinized by the public. In the age of digital activism, independent-minded students now have an opportunity to communicate and readily discuss their views on global issues anywhere, anytime. Creating an online community that supports young diverse minds coming together to establish each of their individual viewpoints is crucial in moving towards a better future. 

As a member of Generation Z, I believe that we have the responsibility to take care of our planet. After all, we are the future leaders of this world. The choice to shape the future is literally in our hands, and we have the opportunity to have a say in it.

Why not speak up now?