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Social Media and Social Change: How Young People are Tapping into Technology

Ravi Kumar's picture

Today, 43% of the world’s population is 25 years old or younger. This young group is impatient and ready to change the world. Change for this generation “has everything to do with people and very little to do with political ideology,” according to a new global survey, Millennials: The Challenger Generation, by Havas Worldwide, a future-focused global ideas agency.  Some 70% of young people believe that social media is a force for change, says the survey.

These five examples from around the world show how youth used technology, social media and the Internet to make a difference recently.

1. Fighting corruption:  250 young people met at the third Global Youth Anti-Corruption Forum last year to talk about how their use of social media can play a significant role in the global fight against corruption.  Around the world, youth are using social media to monitor the effectiveness of public service. In countries such as Paraguay and Brazil, they are using Facebook and Twitter to make official data available publicly to inform and mobilize their peers.

2. Evaluating public schools in the Philippines: Students in the Philippines are using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to comment on their schools and inform the public. Most young people in the Philippines are online, so interactive websites such as checkmyschool.org make it very easy for them to evaluate their schools. Projects like these have the potential to be implemented in various parts of the world. Watch this video for more about checkmyschool.org.

3. Using e-petitions in Latvia: Two 23-year-olds in Latvia used a grant from the U.S State Department to build an e-petition system so their fellow Latvians could submit and support proposals for policy change. The government looks at petitions supported by at least 20% of the population of Latvia. Watch this video by the Guardian in which the Latvian minister of foreign affairs talks about the petition.

4. Fighting gender stereotypes:   McKenna Pope, a 13--year-old girl from New Jersey in the United States, launched an online petition urging the CEO of toy-maker Hasbro to feature boys on the package of the Easy-Bake Oven. Pope was inspired to launch the petition when she found her 4-year-old brother trying to warm tortillas on top of his lamp. Pope wanted to get an Easy-Bake Oven for him as a Christmas gift, but the toy oven’s packaging only featured girls.

“I want my brother to know that it’s not ‘wrong’ for him to want to be a chef,” Pope wrote in her petition. In less than a month, the petition received 45,000 signatures prompting Hasbro to make a gender neutral Easy Bake Oven.  

5. Tackling sanitation issues: Students participated in a Sanitation Hackathon last December to develop mobile- and web-based applications for water and sanitation utilities in Pakistan. About 105 students, aged 21 to 26, from various universities in Pakistan, came together to find solutions for 13 water- and sanitation-related problems facing their community.

What do you think? Are you inspired by these examples? Do you know of other youth-led projects that have made an impact in your society? Share with us in the comments.

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous Paul C. Achigasim on
i think it is a worthwhile venture for young people to use the instrumentality of the internet and social media to fight the ills of the society at large, by so doing there would be change in the manner public officials work, but this will only apply to countries or states that are willing to listen or put differently are willing to be the agents of change, this to my mind would not apply to countries or states that see such publication as derisive to the government in power, for instance in my country the government instead of implementing the change sought would rather rely on sentiments about the president being the most abused or fend off such criticism as president bashing. this is also applicable to almost all strata of public life. An instance will suffice here, in the 2013 budget of Nigeria as reported in the business day of yesterday, the cost of living in the Aso villa which stood at N1billion or thereabouts last year is included again inspite the criticism that clause received last year. like last years budget we shall also indulge in wasteful spending this year, N1.1 billion included inthe education budget would be used to celebrate anniversaries alone this year, one can only imagine the change such amount would bring to the people. we certainly need social networks and social media but to what extent are the people who govern willing to implement the resolve of the people or its citizen as captured in the internet? Nigeria Police Force needs a social media focused on its activities as it is such much into corrupt practices.

Submitted by shobhana on

Yes, I agree with you.this can only be possible if we young people show our unity and fights against the evils of society

Submitted by Hemn merany on
Hello there, that was an amazing article, well done guys. I am pleased to share some points about how Kurdish youths use social media particularly Facebook which is much more popular than tweeter in Kurdistan. First of all, unfortunately the Internet service in our country is very bad. It is very very slow and expensive compared to their low quality service. Regardless, Kurdish youths are enjoying being member on Facebook and share their storys with each other. Majority of Facebook users are busy with politics. In other words, they are sharing political storys more than other issue. Hopefully, it has been used to uncover so many corrupt cases. Youths in 2011, used Facebook to arrange anti corruption protests in some areas and currently they use it to the same purposes.

Submitted by shobhana on

don't accept much from me I just study in 10th.But I will answer you
First of all you writes very effectively.I mean that now days no young persons don't feel anything for what ever is going wrong. they are so selfish.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Very Nice.

Submitted by Chief Gudo on
Great article indeed. Technology has changed the way we think and act....

Submitted by Frank Bruce on
In Ghana last year, young people forming the netizens community setup a hash tag on twitter,#GhanaDecides and massive campaign to involve more youths and eligible Ghanaian voters to go out and vote for their candidate in the just ended general elections 2012.The online campaign garnered huge following and participation in the process and was successful.It was managed by Blogging Ghana,the nation's biggest NGO made up of bloggers and social media enthusiasts at home and the diaspora i am glad to have played a key role in the exercise that made an inpact in my country.

Submitted by Tulane Social Media 2013-Student on
First off, this is a great post and has introduced me to ways that my generation is using social media for social change. I believe the greatest thing about social media is that it provides a voice for everyone from a very simple platform. We all know that social media is an extremely powerful tool, whether used for positive or negative reasons. It can help ignite social change, expand meaningful conversations and provide increased support for causes, among other things. It’s awesome to see positive examples of what can happen when the causes of youth and social media combine (not only in America, but worldwide).

Depends. In underdeveloped countries the young people become more technology to waste time and incur nonsense rather than using it directly for information, knowledge and development. Some provide good contribution but if parents do not change the mentality hardly be transferred to children. Greetings.

Submitted by Maciej Chmielewski on

Very well put together peice on current technology targeting a very topical, and some would argue vulnerable, group that is present in every country, Youth! I think the best example above is the Latvia program. This is one country that we all should have have one ear close to in the next couple of decades, and learn from their successes and failures regarding Web 2.0 and society/government. One example I would highlight here is Freedom Fone, a Zimbabwean project that produced a open source telephony application for communication without Internet. The program has been spreading across Africa like wild fire and has been used during various government elections and helping farmers discuss emerging plant diseases.

Submitted by Teong Jing on

Greatly agreed that social media highly affects our lives, especially for youngsters of Generation Y. I myself is part of the generation Y, 19 years old and is currently pursuing tertiary education in The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC). In relevance with your topic, me and my fellow friends is currently organising a Generation Y Music Festival which will be held in Malaysia itself. This is a huge scale charity concert fully organised, plan, executed and self-funded by students of our society (UNMC Music Society). The main purpose of this music festival is not only to donate all our profits to people in need, it is also a platform for young people to gain experience and knowledge of how the real world really works as well as to nurture new talents among the society. The event will be held on 19 October 2013 which is exactly 2 months time from now and we hope to gain as much support as possible from everyone. Information and details of this event could be found at our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GenYMF2013. Everyone interested in making donations are welcomed with open hands. Donators could do so through our eventbrite at: http://www.eventbrite.sg/event/3410403609/efbevent. I really hope that we could get your help to spread our message to the world as we are trying our best to help those in need.
For more contacts, can facebook message to: https://www.facebook.com/teong.jing.
Best Wishes and Regards. :)

Submitted by Jie on

Very interesting article. Another perspective of this question that we can think about is that how decision makers can keep up with this trend - a majority of them are what they called "digital migrants" compared to the "digital natives" the Y-Generation. It is critical to think how the demand and message can be effectively responded to.

Social media has greatly interwoven into our daily lives and there is no turning back even in the next coming 50yrs. All we need is to accept it and look at various ways to use it for the benefit of the community or oneself.

Submitted by NinjaSEO on

There is no doubt that Social Media is influencing people of all ages, and of course is more influential for young people as they are more receptive and eager to learn.

I hope that that the Internet can survive as a channel for freedom of speech!

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