By Alison Harner ‘24
The generation born between the mid 90s to the early 10s, known as Gen Z, is a new and ambitious political force in the world of American politics. The group leans toward the democratic side of things, with strong viewpoints on issues like abortion, LGBTQ+ rights, and police reform. The 2022 midterms revealed the new political power of Gen Z, and their influence will only grow with time as more and more new voters become adults. However, the excitement that Gen Z feels toward the act of voting itself does not necessarily match their knowledge of everything that they will see on the ballot.
Even though most of Gen Z aligns with a democratic viewpoint, it is largely on controversial topics that are often debated between parties like access to abortion, same-sex rights, climate change, etc. However, many Gen Z voters express frustration when it comes to researching other, more practical issues that parties have a stance on, like finances or the economy. The reason why Gen Z is so informed on hot topics could be thanks to the social media platform Tik Tok. Polls sent out by NPR reveal that Gen Z relies on YouTube and Tik Tok as their primary sources of news and political information. When faced with a time limit on videos, only a surface-level amount of information can be shared via Tik Tok, so teens who base their political views and opinions on information shared through the apps are missing the full picture. However, this issue is not exclusive to Gen Z. Though millennials use Tik Tok far less, over half of the generation uses Facebook and YouTube as primary news sources. This is not entirely due to ignorance, because this information is far more accessible than that which is less often discussed. The irony of the fact is that often the more debated topics are the ones that elected officials are less likely to actually produce legislation on.
In the meantime, it may be a wise choice for politicians to take their platforms to social media, especially Tik Tok, in order to reach the growing voting population. However, the spread of information should not stop there. In order to truly educate young people on political issues that aren’t just those that are hotly debated on social media, more experienced voters and politicians should be creating and distributing resources that truthfully display the viewpoints and promises made by everyone on the ballot. This way, Gen Z will not vote solely for a party but for individuals that they feel would be the best leaders and representatives for their communities.
Moore, Elena. “Gen Z’s Political Power: New Data Gives Insight into America’s Youngest Voters.” WITF, NPR, 6 Feb. 2023, www.npr.org/2023/02/06/1154172568/gen-zs-political-power-new-data-gives-insight-into-americas-youngest-voters. Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.