Young people are the leaders of the next generation, the young minds of the future. Yet it appears that with every election, the number of young people registering to vote is consistently declining. This raises an important yet unanswered question: if young people cared about their future and that of their country, why are the majority not bothering to vote? Even more alarmingly, why are political parties not trying to sway young people? Have previous generations set us on a path of self-destruction by allowing not voting to continue as a trend?
Those who have instilled arrogant attitudes in young people may simply argue that they are just not interested in engaging in politics and therefore, why should political parties be interested in them? However, campaigns such as the 'Stand Up Be Counted' by Sky News proves that there are young people out there who share and have passionate views about all types of social issues.
However, what we don't realise as a generation is the amount of power we have, power that we continuously choose not to exercise. There are citizens in third world countries that have done everything possible to fight for their right to vote; ironically here we are, waiving that right away every time a general election is held. As a young woman who will definitely be voting, I simply cannot understand the indifference amongst those who are choosing not to.
Click above to enlarge the info-graph.
According to the British Election Study, the number of registered 18-24 year olds who vote has regularly been below all other age groups since the 1970s. Hence, it is no surprise that parties are not that concerned with satisfying young peoples' needs or wants.
Young people tend to be very expressive and opinionated, most of which can be found on social media. This leads to a perfect opportunity for this generation to use their love of technology to their advantage and actively engage in politics. We effectively produce information for data curators and we can find out virtually anything we want through social analytical tools such as Topsy, as shown in examples below.
It is fair to say that the majority of society now depends on media technologies one way or another, which is why there has been heavy discussion regarding whether or not this year's election could rightly be dubbed the 'The Social Media Election'.
With young people regularly using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to get their views and opinions across, social media can play a more crucial role than ever with encouraging young people to vote. Social media has altered the way in which we produce news, providing various sources of information onto different platforms.
Although the majority of voters are outside the 18-30 year old category, parties such as the Conservatives have chosen to actively engage with audiences in that age range by promoting themselves on YouTube and Facebook, for example. The Conservative party spends around £100,000 each month on advertisements on Facebook. On the other hand, Ed Miliband recently took party in an interview with Russell Brand, a move that was deemed by some as reaching out to younger audiences which Brand regularly does.
Click above to enlarge the info-graph.
The use of data journalism bridges the gap between important statistics and words and enables users to understand a story better. This could be particularly useful when targeting young people who classify themselves as uninterested or unaware of situations in politics. The curation of data so that it is visually appealing can provide a rise of engagement in topics that are not typically attributed to young people, such as politics. Using an info-graphic enables readers to look at results from different perspectives, depending on how data is curated and portrayed. An ideal example of this very thing is available on the British Election Study website which offers you the chance to curate data into your graphs depending on what you want to find out. Tools such as this allows people to further understand specific information on a more visual level.
Whether you care about welfare and benefits, tuition fees or the NHS, international policies and immigration or, you simply do not want a certain party to be elected, whatever your beliefs ensure that you head to the polls on the 7th May. Have your say, use your vote, make it count.
Keen to know more?
If you want to have the opportunity to discuss and stand up for what you believe in, then take a look at https://standup.news.sky.com/app/ to explore how you can engage further in politics in time for the general election.
Or, if you're interested in curating data about the general election, experiment with http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/data/#.VUeoe5V0zIU to help understand election data better.
If you're curious to find out who and what you could be voting for, explore the manifesto of each party:
Scottish National Party:http://www.snp.org/node/15170