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5 Ways to Stay Engaged in Politics as a Teenager

Opinion

Wed, April 24

A 2023 study by Circle* found that while 76% of young people believe youths have the power to change the country, 60% do not feel they are qualified to participate in politics. This is disheartening given just how crucial young people are to politics.

Not only can they provide fresh and innovative outlooks, but many issues discussed in politics affect young people more than anyone else. After all, who is better qualified to discuss climate change than the demographic that it will affect the most?

However, it can be hard to know how to actually get involved in politics. This article will therefore provide five suggestions of ways to stay engaged in politics as a teenager.

1: Keep up With the News

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Basic, but important. Keeping up with the news will allow you to stay informed on all the latest happenings in politics. Of course, you don't have to be an expert on everything that's going on, but even just glancing at the latest headlines will ensure you have at least a basic idea of current affairs.

Mobile phones mean it's easier than ever to keep up with the news. All you need to do is download a news app, turn notifications on and you're good to go. If you're feeling traditional, you could subscribe to a physical print of your favorite newspaper to read at breakfast or on your way to school.

2: Read Books

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To get involved in politics, you have to first understand politics. Therefore, it's helpful to read not only newspapers but also books. Doing so will help you fill any gaps in your political knowledge.

Here are some suggestions of books that you might find helpful!

Books for beginners

Recommendations of books to help you familiarise yourself with the history of politics as well as its current landscape.

  • The History of Political Thought: A Very Short Introduction, Richard Whatmore — part of Oxford's ‘Very Short Introductions’ series. Provides a brief and accessible introduction to politics. A good option for those looking for something short, but still informative.
  • How Politics Works, DK — Provides an engaging and informative overview of politics. Uses accessible language and visual images to ease readers in.

Books on Political Philosophy

A good option for those looking to dip their toes a bit deeper into the world of politics. The language can be dense, but don't let this put you off—it just takes a little practice and you'll get used to it!

  • The Republic, Plato — A Socratic Dialogue. Plato delves into ideas such as justice, society, and the individual. A good option for those fascinated by the philosophical side of politics.
  • The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels — One of the most famous books in the field of political philosophy. Explores matters of capitalism, labor, and communism. Recommended for those interested in the interlink between politics and economics.

Fiction

Reading fiction motivates critical thinking and empathy. It can also provide a more vivid and comprehensive overview of political concepts such as authoritarianism and social rights than non-fiction can.

  • 1984, George Orwell follows Winston Smith, an unimportant worker in the Ministry of Truth who begins to doubt the ideas and beliefs enforced on him by his totalitarian government. Winston meets a woman with whom he begins a secret relationship that flouts the rules of his tyrannical society.
  • The Handmaid's Tale, Margeret Atwood — set in the Republic Gilead, a repressive regime that controls the bodies of society's fertile women, the Handmaids, and forces them to reproduce. The novel follows Offred, a Handmaid for a prominent Gilead commander.

3: Join Organizations

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You may find it worthwhile to join any politics-related clubs that your school or university offers. Often, clubs provide valuable extra-curricular opportunities to engage in political activities, such as meeting local politicians, or even going on trips to parliament. It doesn't hurt that joining clubs is also a nice way of meeting like-minded individuals with a similar passion for politics.

Don't despair if your institution doesn't offer any politics-related clubs. Look online! The internet is brimming with groups and societies centered around getting young people involved in politics. There truly is something out there for everyone.

4: Use your Voice

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It's easy to convince yourself that just because you're young, your voice doesn't matter. But, all you need to do is look at the dozens of youth activists out there to realize that this isn't true. Just look at Greta Thunberg, who at the mere age of 15, began her journey as an activist by protesting outside the Swedish parliament.

A common way for young popular to use their voices is by organizing and attending protests. Social media is a useful tool to discover and get involved in such protests.

Emailing politicians is another effective way that you can get involved in politics. Most countries will have a local representative available for citizens to contact. For example, if you live in the United Kingdom, you can use this site to find out your MP's contact details, while if you live in the United States, you can use this one.

5: …and Your Pen

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Writing for blogs and newspapers is another great way that you can get involved in politics as a young person. Not only does it offer a way to express yourself on issues that you care about but, with luck, it will enable you to connect with like-minded individuals.

Aside from your school newspaper, dozens of online sites are always looking for new writers. For example, Medium and Teen Ink. If you're feeling ambitious you could even start a blog from scratch with the help of a site such as WordPress.

Image Credit: Li-An Lim from Unsplash

Hopefully, you've found this article informative and you feel better equipped to engage in politics as a young person.

While you're welcome to adopt all of the tips, you may find it preferable to begin with one or two and work your way in. Remember, everyone's journey into politics is unique, so do what's best for you!

*Respondents consisted of 2018 U.S. citizens aged 18-29.

Areesha Ahmed
10k+ pageviews

Areesha is currently a student. She enjoys watching horror films and drinking tea. When she is not reading books, she is buying them.

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