Editorial: News apathy harms youth

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April 5 editorial illustration
Illustration by Rocio Macias

In today’s world young people have unlimited access to information that previous generations did not have.

This leads many to assume that young people, especially college students are well informed and up to date with news.

But the reality is completely different.

According to a 2009 study by The Pew Research Center, young people are not very knowledgeable with news. They surveyed 1,003 adults all over 18 years of age with their Pew Research News IQ Quiz.

This quiz contained 12 multiple choice questions ranging from news to economic policies.

The results of the news quiz demonstrated what is known as an age gap. People over 50 years of age correctly answered an average of 8.4 questions. Anyone younger than 35 only managed to correctly answer 5.9 questions.

College educated people did fare a bit better, with an average of 8.7 questions answered correctly. But not everyone is a college graduate.

Those who had some college education scored lower than people over the age of 50.

They scored an average of 7.6 questions answered correctly.

Although college educated people did better, it was not by much. This knowledge age gap is not only present in young people’s apathy towards news but bleeds into other aspects of life.

This age gap was evident in the 2016 presidential election, Brexit and many other major political events.

It is well known that people between ages 18 to 29, don’t vote enough compared to older generations.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement conducts research of the voting habits of young people in America.

Their research found that the amount of young people that voted in the 2016 election decreased compared to the amount that voted in the 2012 election.

According to CIRCLE’s statistics, there are 46 million people ranging between the ages 18 to 29 who are eligible to vote but they continue to be in the minority of voters.

In the 2016 election, only about 24 million, or 50 percent of youth, voted.

Older voters make up 39 million people of the American population and yet they continue to be the majority of the voting population each election.

It is hard to understand why young people, especially college-aged adults, are apathetic toward politics and news.

Many prefer to avoid news. Instead they choose to not be updated on policies that might negatively affect their mood.

As long as it doesn’t harm them, why should they care?

Not being well infomed leads to ignorance. This ignorance can have a negative impact upon society.

When people choose to be uniformed they are unable to have a stance in what is going on in the world. Doing so ignores and ultimately silences those who are fighting for a better tomorrow.

Sure, the 24 hour non-stop news cycle can be overwhelming and lead to burnout, but it should not mean that people should ignore news altogether.

It is easy to ignore news. In fact, many people takes great strides to avoid the news, citing a desire to benefit their mental health.

“News is bad for your health,” Rolf Dobelli, writer for The Guardian, said. “It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether.”

We, the Viewpoints Editorial Board, believe news should not be avoided because a democracy can only thrive with a well-informed public.

However, efforts should be made to create a balance. There is no need to go from one extreme to another.

The news should matter to young people, as the political issues of today are affecting their tomorrows.

The political issues that are being debated will one day be handled by this generation.

Young people have a responsibility to make sure that the decisions being made are going to ultimately benefit them and their futures.

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