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.