Teenagers are informed too!
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A teenager’s social media timeline has the potential to hold an array of different content. Even through the endless abyss of Bee movie memes and constant shitposting there is a lot that the older generation completely misses. Teenagers care about what is happening in the world. Even if teens have less responsibility compared to adults, they still willingly choose to keep up to date on what’s happening.
Teenagers may get their news from Twitter but it isn’t through BuzzFeed quizzes asking “What your favorite form of potato says about your political views.” Teens follow news outlets like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, or even Fox News. My daily update on the world’s current affairs come from activists like Deray McKesson who works with Campaign Zero and Black Lives Matter to layout reform plans that combat police brutality and promote ways to prevent gun violence.
Another example is youtuber Laci Green, a feminist and activist that uses her channel to educate others about sexual education, and the complex issues and concepts that many people don’t receive in a school setting. Social media allows activists like McKesson and Green to provide different perspectives to online viewers along with the ability to share relevant articles from reputable sources.
Some of these sources may look like they have a bark worse than their bite, but have managed to surprise a number of people thanks to their transparent reporting. It also might be surprising that these sites are written by and for teens. Affinity Magazine is a social justice newspaper written by teens for teens; staff members report on topics ranging from feminism to world politics. The site continues to break stereotypes on the typical teenage relationship with social media. One example of how Affinity has made a difference through their site was an article criticizing makeup company ColourPop about questionable titles on their darker contouring sticks. The article, Dear ColourPop, My Skin Color is Not A “Typo”, caught the company’s attention and they changed the names ‘Yikes,’ ‘Dume,’ and ‘Typo’ to ‘Bloom,’ ‘Point Dume,’ and ‘Platonic.’ Affinity may be an unknown source to most, but they do their research and recognize that teens are a powerful tool to keeping the world in check. Fortunately, Affinity is not the only magazine targeted towards middle and high school audiences.
Like Affinity magazine Teen Vogue has stepped up to bat for other news outlets that have dropped the ball recently. The world of journalism was taken by storm when Teen Vogue posted an article following the election on why the 45th President proves to be a risk in the article ‘Donald Trump is Gaslighting America.’ Lauren Duca, writer and weekend editor for Teen Vogue, spells out how Mr. Trump’s behavior towards current events and the media can manipulate the American public. People were taken by surprise that such a politically insightful piece could come from a teen fashion magazine. It’s true that over the course of its 13 year existence that the magazine gained a reputation on covering the vivacious lives of young hollywood, but with the current political climate and Teen Vogue’s new editor—Elaine Welteroth—the outlet has started to add more depth to its brand. Teen Vogue’s decision to move into: more aggressively into covering politics, feminism, identity, and activism further supports the claim that teens are motivated to inform themselves on some of those heavier topics.
Teens getting involved is great, but the information coming from the internet—a young person staple—has gotten flack especially from older readers. With this “fake news” epidemic that has spewed all over social media it is understandable why teens may get criticized for their go to sources. Adults will support the news anchor or outlet they’re familiar with than give the digital resources a chance. Those who don’t support the internet as a place to gather facts might tell their younger counterparts to watch serious news shows and subscribe to newspapers.
It’s true that subscriptions are an effective way to combat propaganda and lackluster reporting; still, at some point the web will completely dominate journalism. It has already molded the press. Teens have an advantage, because they’ve been exposed to the intricate workings of technology. They can intrigue readers with clickbait-y headlines while simultaneously dishing out accurate facts found during extensive research.
For those wondering, keep posting those memes but remember the internet is a large resource at your fingertips. “Do you like jazz?” has become an iconic question on the minds of America’s impressionable youth but it’s time to start asking ourselves more serious questions like: how can I keep up with the world? Many of the mentioned outlets and activists are reputable and are worthy of a follow. On top of their voices are those of the press working hard to be accurate and formidable. Take the time to look for a news outlet that is reputable and trusted so you’re ready to fight with the rest of us.