There’s a big presidential election just around the corner (in case you hadn’t heard), but you might be surprised to learn that many teens are paying close attention to the race, as well as other elections going on in their cities and states. Even though most of them are too young to cast a vote, teens believe they can still have a say and make a difference in the outcomes of political races that will likely have a significant impact on their futures.
Earlier this year, a Boston Consulting Group study found that 76% of Millennials believe they can make a difference with their actions. Previous generations of young people have felt insignificant — just one person with opinions — but Millennials believe that just one person can start a movement, one small action can spark change on a global scale. It’s not just hope and optimism; it’s a reality. They’ve realized their political power during the Arab Spring and helping the Kony 2012 video go viral. Teens aren’t waiting around for adult permission or approval before they set to work changing the world.
Three teen girls from New Jersey have already had an impact on this year’s Presidential campaign. They had a hand in bringing the first female debate moderator to the stage in 20 years, thanks to a Change.org petition and grassroots efforts to raise awareness. That’s right, we’re talking about teens who are so into politics that they’re concerned about who the debate moderator is.
Today’s teens can make such a significant difference in the world because of the tools they have at hand. They’re informed and empowered, thanks to social media and the Internet, getting and sharing news via YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and more. They also have a team-oriented attitude. One person might start a movement, but they know it takes a group, with people pitching in at all levels, to spread the message, and they can find their team of supporters online with just a few clicks.
Another reason teens are confident they can make a difference is because they know we’re listening. Adults and authority figures have been giving them a say since childhood; they’ve come to expect us to pay attention. Even major media outlets are featuring stories about teens’ opinions; it’s hard to ignore a collective voice shouting for change.
By now, most youth-oriented brands have also learned the value of listening to teens about everything from products to social responsibility. With teens’ expectations of being heard, brands can’t afford to ignore them. But to take it to the next level, brands can further empower teens by helping them spread their particular messages. Something as simple as retweeting, liking a post on Facebook, or, better yet, responding to their opinions, can impress teens as much as formally supporting a social cause because it’s more personal and reinforces their belief that they can make the world a better place through one simple action — with a little help from their team of supporters.