Youth Activism in the Age of Social Media

Social media is revolutionizing how youth-led activism gains momentum. Young adults, once in the shadow of their parents, possess a powerful voice, constantly active through mobile technology. The power of that voice was evident around the world, when four million young people—many under the age of twenty-five—protested across 150 countries in September to demand urgent action on climate change in one of the largest youth-led strikes to date.

“It’s online activity and what happens in the real world. And clearly what we saw . . . was a historic moment,” explains Kevin Howley, a Professor of Media Studies at DePauw University and an expert in changing communication technologies. “We’ve never seen a mobilization on that scale.”

Youth activism, like social media, is not new. Rachel Einwohner, a Professor of Sociology and Political Science at Purdue University, researches protest emergence and efficacy. She explains the role of youth activism in a broader historical context, suggesting that although the scale has changed today, youth protest is long-established.

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