Kids These Days! | Young journalist applauds ‘thinking for oneself’

Allison Potter
Allison Potter

By Allison Potter

Editor’s note: Allison Potter is from Aurora and studies journalism at NC State University.

From bombs dropped overseas, controversial Supreme Court cases hundreds of miles away, and in state legislation being passed, there are so many things going on in the world that are causing a continued divide in society.

Yet, there is a group of thoughts and opinions that are commonly overlooked, whilst being arguably one of the most important: Opinions of our youth. It is no new fact that children, teenagers, and young adults makeup the future of America and the entire world, but their opinions and feelings about current events are often regarded as the contrary.

The influx of conformity from adults in society along with the continuous influence of social media, creates a youth population distant from their own opinions. Conformity within families is moderately necessary, but the excess of it leads to a youth population unsure of their own thoughts. The spread of beliefs and opinions down genetic lines is not only somewhat obligatory, but is also entirely inevitable. The overuse of this process, however, creates a future in which the leaders of America are fueled not by passion, but by the thoughts of their parents.

The basis of having individual opinions serves the democracy of America, but these opinions are not rightfully created when they are simply inherited from generation to generation. Thinking for oneself is truly a learned life skill,

and children miss out on this crucial educational feature when their beliefs are told to them instead of sought after.

Conferences and opportunities such as Youth and Government strive to instill the process of free thinking among children. Being a Youth and Government (YAG) alumnus, I have seen and experienced firsthand how free thinking can and should be learned. At YAG, I was not forced to debateheated topics of the world like gun control or abortion, instead I was forced to debate whether the North Carolina state drink should be Cheerwine, or if there should be an autobahn in North Carolina –  ultimately forcing me to think of my own viewpoints.

The passing of beliefs and opinions down lineage may seem appropriate and is moderately inevitable, but the learned process of free thinking is also crucial not only  to the life of a child but to the future and well-being of the world. Also contributing to this issue is the factor of social media in the world and the lack of reliability among news sources.

Kids and social media (it’s a commonly thought of parallel in the world) but the influence of social media spreads far past only younger generations. Social media is used across generations, along with many news

sources that sway towards one political party or the other. Through these methods comes a world in which fact is mingled with opinion, and history is combined with partiality.

Children are taught to take everything that adults say as fact, and when skewed facts are inherited by adults, incorrect data is digested by children as truth. Similarly, social media’s clickbait and other forms of the spread of fake news provoke children to believe incorrect happenings. Through social media’s broad influence, children are presented with so many voices in their lives telling them what to believe with no strong foundation. It attacks through generations thus spreading lies about the world and about people, further defeating the development of youth opinions.

Social media, however, is not entirely negative. This form of fast media

can and should be used to equip our future generation to serve the world. This rapid spreading of news is a positive feature of the growing technology that the world is facing. Facts are apparent within social media sources and can be found by researching which sources are legitimate and thoroughly

understanding that many things on social media are skewed to fit the opinions and beliefs of political parties. Social media is a double edged sword that can spread fake news just as well as it spreads legitimate facts.

Through the enforcement of opinions towards the youth, along with the lack of reliability in the world, America has produced a youth population that is largely distant from their own thoughts and opinions. The development of opinions, whether it be politically or socially, is a learned skill that needs to be implemented into the younger generations of America.

Similarly, freedom of thought is an obtained life skill, while the influences of social media bring about struggles in being able to determine if things are

true or not. Most people recognize that many news outlets and social media sources are unreliable but alarming headlines and interesting stories are still able to creep into the minds of all people.

The development of opinions towards the happenings of the world among youth generations is crucial in society, but is often overlooked and downplayed as free thought is not viewed as a learned necessity, facts

are skewed, and opinions are presented as certainties. No problem associated with this, however, is too large to be overturned. Social media can be used for the better, and parents can teach their kids to think on their own, as they once had to do.

Youth opinions span far and wide across the world, the state, and our beloved country. These opinions are made up of more sources than ever because of the large influence of social media. Social media can be a positive feature showing new perspectives across the world that affects the opinions of the youth in ways that history has never seen.

With all of these potential sways on youth opinions, it can be hard for children, teenagers, and young adults to figure out their own thoughts and then separate that from what the rest of the world is telling them to believe. In a rapidly growing world, the opinions of the youth are still crucial, even if they may be unknown!