Youth In The News: The Worst Generation Ever?

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Reviewing the headlines in youth-related news, we are dismayed to see titles, articles, and news that portray a problematic generation. The media depict young people as poor decision makers, politically inert, lacking in innovation, and selfish and egocentric. Can all of this be true?

Taking a stand

Youth from Britain were in the spotlight this past week regarding the question of their country remaining in the EU or leaving it.  The EU referendum held in Leeds last week indicated that a vast majority favors remaining in the EU as 298 out of the 300 young people polled expressed a preference for staying in Europe.  The main reason they cited was mobility.  Generations of young people have lived their lives as part of the EU – having free movement across Europe, the opportunity to study and work abroad, and the chance to obtain EU-funded scholarships.  Taking into consideration that the prices of education and housing in Britain are among the highest in Europe, is this really something that should be denied to today’s youth and generations to come?

On the other hand, the young people who support leaving the EU emphasize the fact that the established politicians, who have lost the trust of the younger generation, favor staying in. They question the reasons why, stating that the firm stands of major politicians and major banks seem too suspiciously similar.  In conclusion, one can only hope that the final decision made by the people of Britain will be truly the best for future generations of young people.

Originally published in Huffington Post UK

 

Questioning the preachers

Being young means you are often faced with sermons from your parents, relatives, and from adults generally about the misconduct of your generation.  They usually end with “We were not like that when we were young”, implying that their generation was better than we are in every way: they were polite, smart, well-behaved, and allegedly respectful of their elders and obedient, too.  Thanks to a study called The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, you can prove them wrong.  The study shows that teens today actually make better decisions than the generations before them, including their parents’.  Teens today are less likely to drink and drive, teen pregnancy has declined, and the incidence of tobacco use is lower than ever.  The survey turned up a lot of interesting data that has been measured for decades and that can be used as valid, scientific evidence for any dispute a teenager might have with parents or grandparents. Texting while driving and using indoor tanning beds are the few things that teens need to stop doing to record better scores than the generations ahead of them.

Originally published in VOX.

Applying for a patent before getting a driver’s license?

Staying on the topic of showing that the younger generation is really not as bad as parents perceive, here is an example of a teenager doing something that might have been done decades ago, but nobody thought of it.  Raymond Wang, 15 at the time, and surrounded with news about Ebola in late 2014, and how it’s spread on airplanes, decided to do something about it.  So he basically studied the matter a bit online and found a simple and cheap solution that can help prevent spreading diseases in airplanes permanently.  His solution, however, was way too simple. Let’s put it this way: a teenager, fifteen years old, did something that airline industry executives, educated and experienced, had not succeeded in doing since the design of the first commercial passenger airplane. 

One extraordinary kid created a small device that can easily be installed in existing spots in the overhead area of airplane cabins to reduce pathogen inhalation by 55 percent.  The device also has the side effect of improving fresh air delivery by 190 percent.  He named it “patent pending global inlet director”, and you can learn more about it by listening to him explain it on TED Youth Talk.

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Originally published at Upworthy.com

 

Fighting for others to succeed 

Talking about inspiring young people, let’s head to Ghana.  An outstanding project was launched last month thanks to the efforts of Daniel Dotse, a biomedical engineer. He has dreamt of building an African pharmaceutical company that could compete with global ones like Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.  The main obstacle in the way of fulfilling this dream was the fact that the educational system in Ghana is quite low on the quality scale.  So he decided to quit his job in New York and start Teach for Ghana as part of the first Teach for All global network.  Sounds simple, but actually it has not been. Teach for Ghana is the first Teach for All partner organization on the African continent, and Dotse has faced both criticism of the entire concept as well as problems with getting enough funds to keep it going.  Considering the fact that he himself was educated in Ghana before obtaining a scholarship to attend U.S. universities, the obstacles were anticipated and represent a well of inspiration for him and his team.  Their plan and their hope is that Teach for Ghana will operate in every region in Ghana by 2020. Educating the individuals who will build the next Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, or even Apple is the over-all goal Dotse emphasizes.  His longtime dream is to have Teach for All partner organizations across the African continent. Dotse hints that programs are already being developed to create Teach for Nigeria, Teach for Kenya, and Teach for Uganda.

Originally published at Devex.com

 

Listening to elders

And if you are still skeptical about the power that lies within youth, maybe you should listen to the message sent by co-chairs of the world’s largest private foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates.  Their annual letter on philanthropy has just been published, and this year they have expressed their faith in future generations.  Bill and Melinda Underscore the major issues that they believe young people will solve in the near future.  Melinda Gates emphasizes the issue of gender equality, stating that young people can change the cultural norms by which girls and women are often denied education and paid work because they are expected to raise children and maintain a home.  On the other hand, Bill points out the importance of cheap, clean energy.  He calls upon young people to learn, explore, and be innovative to create what he called “an energy miracle.”

Originally published in Mashable

 

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