Hannah Torok, Grade 11, Staff Writer
Constituting 32 percent of the global population and about 25 percent of the American population, Generation Z, made up of people born from 1997 to 2010, is the largest generation with Millennials following close behind. Currently, every student at the High School of American Studies belongs to Generation Z.
Often, older generations view us as the self-obsessed, phone addicted, and weak generation. However, Generation Z is so much more. Most importantly, we are considered to be the most politically aware and active age group. This is particularly the case in the online world since social media has been such an integral part of society for most of our lives.
Many political analysts and media outlets credit this year’s election results to the enormous voter turnout of Millenials and Gen Z. We turned out in record numbers with a 10 percent increase in youth voter turnout. Because of the high numbers and common political values of the two groups, both Millennials and Gen Z-ers are key forces in giving their preferred candidates a leg up in elections. Clearly, the political power of the two largest generations in the country is undeniable.
Members of Generation Z who are too young to vote found other ways to be involved. Many teenagers, including students at HSAS, are members of youth organizations and grassroot movements, which resulted in the doubling of volunteer rates for individuals aged 16 to 19 between 1989 and today. Even within HSAS there were student-led efforts to increase voter turnout. For example, the newly-formed Committee for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (CEDI) hosted a Zoom meeting in October to encourage students to register and pre-register to vote. Young people also stepped up to volunteer at the polls when elders couldn’t because of the pandemic.
Overall, social media has changed what activism means to us. Social media platforms have been used to spread awareness about issues important to Gen Z and Millenials. Leading up to the election, many used Instagram and other platforms to encourage people to sign up for virtual phone banks or letter writing Zooms.
As a result, older officials are starting to become receptive to Generation Z’s opinions and desires due to our increasing political influence. For example, due to Generation Z’s focus on climate change, politicians across the political spectrum have started to address the issue, making it a prominent part of their platforms. Thus, it is clear that Generation Z has an important role in determining the future of America.
It’s time for older generation’s to stop brushing Generation Z aside; our values and desires matter as well. Even without the ability to vote, Generation Z has proven their importance in society by advocating for the issues that matter most to them. As never before, the 2020 election has displayed the powerful impact we can have if we band together to achieve a common goal. As young, soon-to-be voters, HSAS students have the civic responsibility to make their voices heard and join this essential, mass generational movement of political awareness and activism.