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The Secret Advantages of Being Young

Ravi Kumar's picture
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Female students from the University of Laos during a Library Week event in campus.
Female students from the University of Laos during a Library Week event on campus.

It’s not great to be young, said Chris Colfer, a 23-year-old American actor, singer, and author to Esquire magazine for their The Life of Man project.
It’s hard to disagree with Colfer. Youth are usually considered reckless, restless, and aimless. But in recent years things have changed. The change seemed more apparent last Sunday at the Social Good Summit, an annual event that celebrates technology and social action.

Almost every speaker pointed out how young people are creating solutions for the problems they and their communities are facing. “Young people want to be involved and really want to have their voice heard,” said Mette-Marit, crown princess of Norway. Young people are using social media to create a world where they have to access to clean water and air, livable land, quality education, and better opportunities for growth.

As impacts of globalization and technology combine, forcing the world to change, young people feel empowered and capable shaping the world. 84% of this generation of young people believes it’s their duty to change the world for the better, said Zeenat Rahman, special adviser for global youth issues at the U.S. Department of State.

Most young people of this generation are better educated than their predecessors. Democratization of technology has democratized self-expression. Empowered with cheap technology such as mobile and expression platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, it’s almost second nature for youth to express their concerns, ambitions and hold their governments accountable.

Watch President Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank Group talk about how everyone can make their voices heard:

As technology makes the world increasingly one global village, we will see more collaboration worldwide primarily because of young people. Recently, when I spoke to Rachel Kyte, vice president of sustainable development at the World Bank Group, she suggested young people are less concerned about acquiring personal wealth and more about making sure they and their peers have access to resources.

Social media allows young people to exchange ideas and collaborate seamlessly. Challenges of a faraway land are not usually ignored by global youth, mainly because of the way they share information. What happens in one corner of the word makes an immediate impact in another. Young people use social media to organize and impact events on the ground. We have seen that from India to Egypt.

While the process of self-expression has become inexpensive and easy, young people understand that challenges facing them are complex. And the solutions won’t be easy. They believe changes that are needed are more about people and less about political ideology. From the United States to Sierra Leone, young people are taking matters in their own hands to make an impact. They think governments are slow and usually incapable of tackling complex challenges that need immediate solution. That is why they are working with each other, at times experimenting and failing, to tackle problems.

Historian Arnold J. Toynbee once wrote, “Growth takes place whenever a challenge evokes a successful response that, in turn, evokes a further and different challenge.” The world has made enormous advances but faces new global challenges. Young people know they will inherit a world facing the impacts of climate change and pervasive inequality.

One message that I took away from the Social Good Summit was that youth are working hard to meet the challenge with solutions. With access to technology in a global world, youth are bound to be unconventional leaders of international development.
Tell us what you think in the comments.


Submitted by Ahmed on

I believe young people of this century have the full capability, energy and creativity to evoke a global revolution for a once and good change for the benefits of their people,communities, families and most importantly, their future. Young Sudanese are using social media to organize and take this revolution to a good success to build their homeland by their hands.

Submitted by Olukayode on

In Nigeria, we are taking over! We only need support and encouragement. And I believe that with the team of like minded youths coming together, Together we can Achieve More.

Submitted by Tom Mukasa on

Four values prevail:partnerships, empowerment, participation and accountability. Governments, young people and those not in the youth age group need to the four values standard operating procedures. That way young people will be provided opportunity to play roles responsibly. Those handing over to young people will have left behind dependable and capable persons.

Submitted by Emmanuel chibuike on

I believe young people can be in partnership with each other than the old,because being young and educated they understands their common interest which is to shape their world, and also filled with energy they work tirelessly to achieve their aims and goals. Discipline and self-control becomes their greatest challenges, but with proper orientations can be the best

Submitted by Marcus on

Sorry, but this is bullshit. "They believe changes that are needed are more about people and less about political ideology."

To believe that change are "more about people" is also an ideology, so don't try to make it not.

But I truly understand that you at the world bank believe in that, because when the people unite as a force for change, you wont have the same ability to excersize power as you have had before.

You can try showing down our trouths that we need to individualize, but we understand that such a process makes you more influental. But you can expect that the swing will turn back either way..

Submitted by Brian Bilal on

Let us not be pessimistic here: Social media could arguably be the most important thing that ever happened to us-young people today. Our networking, exposure, learning-mention it, has all taken a new level. What remains with us, is to work together in solidarity with one another to 'make more necessary noise' on current global health challanges affecting us, like road traffic crashes, climate change, HIV/AIDS, unemployement etc.

Submitted by stella koki on

as a youth the fact that im not a millionaire or more, and am making an impact in my society, it only takes me some more brain, an eye for observation, partnerships, empowering each and quickly achieving long lasting solutions that would have otherwise been neglected for year So yeah! I know young people in the world hold the answers to all the social, economic.. issues facing the world. So go on and make the change you can.