After today's referendum result, I noticed lots of tweets and Facebook status updates from young people, who have never been engaged with politics before, expressing their disappointment and anger at the electorate's decision to vote 'leave.' But why is it that so many young people, many of which couldn't vote (David Cameron must be kicking himself), decided to express their views after the result? Maybe those who were too young to vote were discouraged by the fact that the fate of their futures had been decided by an electorate who the majority will not have to live with the long-term consequences. If young people express their voices and opinions during an election campaign then they can make a real influence towards the result.
Many young people today decided to stay out of the debate, saying common lines such as "I'm too young to vote" or "it doesn't affect me." Firstly, young people will have a much broader knowledge of the political process before even being eligible to vote if they become actively engaged. This will greatly benefit them and help them to make many crucial decisions in the future which will affect their lives and future generations to come. Secondly, politics affects us all- in some way or another. It's vital that young people become aware of the world around them and the decisions that politicians make every day on our behalf. There are many ways that young people can become involved and influence the political process. Here are just a few.
Social media has been very influential in important recent votes, including the Scottish referendum, Labour leadership election, and the Mayor of London election. The rise of social media has made it much easier to connect with the world around us. We can share our views instantly with hundreds of thousands of people all across the country, and even the world. I encourage young people to share their opinions on social media sites, where they will meet like-minded people, and learn more about their area of interest.
You can also contact your local MP and ask any questions that you may have. If you're looking for work experience, you could also ask your local MP if you could spend some time working in their office. This would look brilliant on a CV or personal statement, especially if you are applying for university.
Watch the news. That's the only way to know what's going on! Make sure you get your news from reliable sources such as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, The Independent or The Guardian. Avoid tabloids such as The Sun or The Daily Mail and don't believe what you read unless it's from a reliable source. The media often misquote politicians and manipulate stories against them.
Setting up a blog really helped me to learn a lot more about British politics and how our country is governed. In my interviews I also enjoy hearing opinions from politicians who shared my point of view, as well as those who I disagree with. I feel this way I can learn about politics from another angle and learn to respect and appreciate a different opinion to my own.
Discussions and debating clubs are also great ways to become active in politics. This way you can learn more about certain issues and also challenge people who you may disagree with. At the end of the day, everyone has a chance to express their point of view which is what democracy is all about.
At the EU referendum, around 75% of 18-24 year-olds voted to remain in the EU, and possibly even a higher number of 16-17 year olds would have too. Why are we not getting our voices heard? More young people should become involved, which would force the politicians to consider our views when making decisions.