Our Children Are Not Our Future
Our children are not our future.
If they were, why is it that when it comes to voting for the future of our country, we put so little effort into including them?
Canada, like many other developed countries in the world, experiences a growing epidemic of politically disconnected youth. And as we have all seen in the movie Titanic, naivety about the future trajectory of one’s country can lead to disastrous consequences in the future (See Appendix: US 2016 Presidential Election), especially if the people who are oblivious are the ones we entrust our future with.
So why is this happening? The impetus for the disconnected youth is a lack of interest in politics. It is simple: if you are not interested in politics, you are not interested in voting. Statistics Canada proved this point when they discovered a 53% gap in likelihood to vote between the youth who are interested in politics and the youth who are not.
Igniting the inner politician within our youth comes down to making politics more relevant in their lives through: Relevant Medium, Relevant Content, and Relevant Feedback.
Increasing dominance of Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter is transforming media from solid blocks of information in newspapers to liquid streams of information in feeds. This shift in news consumption among our generation demands a new way to deliver political information. The challenge is twofold: to render information interesting enough to catch our attention in a sea of dog memes, and second, to condense and convey stories in ways that fit into our busy schedules.
As humans, we engage in topics we are already comfortable with. Just as if we started reading “The American Journal of the Medical Sciences” at page 187 we would be lost, without providing the necessary background, context, and relevance of politics in their lives, youth will continue to be disengaged. One solution is to harness the education system we already have. Just as going to a vineyard can increase our appreciation for wine, schools could simplify policies relevant to youth (i.e., policies on tips, goods tax on shopping, laws on alcohol) and let students explore how politics could influence their lives. This gives students a glimpse into the different political forces that shape their society and recognize the importance of their involvement.
One of the reasons for the explosive popularity of video games among youth is instant feedback. If every button press, joystick movement, and touch were lost in the abyss, resulting in an unresponsive character, then games would cease to exist. Similarly, if we are to engage youth in politics, there must be a mechanism showing a visible impact of their actions. Whether it is changing their favorite park to a non-smoking zone or having a platform to track their promotional efforts on a policy they are passionate about, the visibility of the impact in their political efforts will allow them to realize the power and influence they could have.
Our children are our future. However, to protect the integrity of this statement our society must nurture the political spirit in our youth by developing initiatives that accentuate the relevance of politics in their lives.
What are other ways we can increase the relevance of politics in our youth?
Garlam Won is an Innovation Consultant at Idea Couture.
This article is a repost of the article I wrote on LinkedIn.