In this digital age, it is undeniable that social media has surpassed mainstream media in the sense that young people are now turning to social platforms as their number one source for news. And with the race for US President more intense than ever, it won’t you surprise you that candidates have a team of people who are basically hired to unearth stupid things their rival has said and post them on social media.
Is the way to engage young people in politics via the medium of YouTube and vloggers?
One of the first occasions we know of in the world of YouTube was The YouTube Interview with President Obama back in 2015, which saw Bethany Mota, GloZell and Hank Green questioning him following the State of the Union. As YouTube is the most-used video sharing site, it seems only right to create content regarding political matter for this platform and the selection of the three stars clearly shows a need to grab the attention of a key 13-24 year old audience.
Similarly, Obama invited three more YouTube creators to the White House to ask him questions about the issues they and their fans care about the most. This included Destin Sandin, SWooZie and popular personality Ingrid Nilsen interviewing Barack Obama. Through these interviews, it appears that Obama’s intentions were to harness the attention of millennials and involve them in current events.
The YouTube community were also extremely vocal in the run-up to Brexit as many of them uploaded videos voicing their personal and extremely valid opinions. The most popular being Jazza John’s seemingly pissed off round-up of facts Brexit related. With the overall result meaning Britain would be leaving the EU, a large number of YouTubers took to Twitter to express their anger, their understanding, their confusion, or their outright horror.
This was OUR referendum
Not anyone over the age of 60
It won’t affect them
They reaped the benefits of the EU and now choose to speak for us
— Niki Albon (@NikiAlbon) June 24, 2016
And let’s not forget Sprinkle of Glitter (AKA Louise Pentland) interviewing Ed Miliband. The ‘Glinterview’, as it has been dubbed, focused on engaging teens with political issues and convincing them to use their vote. Using YouTubers in this way is an incredibly smart tactic due to the thousands- if not millions- of followers each YouTuber has across various social media platforms.
“The YouTube Effect” has proven an accessible way for younger people to get involved with political subjects. Take the recent stories from America for example, YouTubers voicing their opinions across social media enabled them to influence and inform those who had been previously unaware. Social networking is now a way of gaining political insight as many people hear of breaking news stories via social media as opposed to television, radio or printed press.
As young people head further towards voting age, we’ve never had a more aware and savvy group of young people who are using all resources possible to inform themselves, immerse in political culture and use their voice when they feel justice needs to be served.