Reaching Out to Today’s Youth

by Brina Jablonski

A major issue in the twenty-first century is the lack of youth involvement in climate change discussion. The members of today’s youth are the future leaders of tomorrow. If they have no interest or understanding of the severe climate problems at hand then they will never take the initiative to make a change. Senebel et al. (2014) explain how people tend to honor set goals, pay close attention to what their peers are doing, and are strongly persuaded by people they like. Thus they concluded that social media is the most effective form of persuasion and communication with the public. With the use of digital media, information will be able to reach many, diverse populations as well as shift social norms, and reduce climate change. The article analyzed the results of a test designed to understand how social media can help encourage today’s current youth to play an active role in preventing further climate change through energy reduction.

The test was conducted in the form of an energy reduction competition between university campuses in British Columbia. Focusing on college students for an energy reduction competition is ideal because the large amount of change in a college student’s life can help grow new habits and improved energy reduction behavior.

Six thousand five hundred students participated in the competition. Results showed that students joined the competition when they had access to multiple forms of social media. Students were also found to pay attention only to the actions of their friends and usually ignore the actions of strangers. Students reduced energy use the most when they felt like they had complete control of their own energy reduction goals. The final result was that the most effective way to encourage students to take action in reducing energy was to employ entertainment that allows multiple methods of participation.

Senbel, M., Douglas, V., Blair, E. 2014. Social mobilization of climate change: University students conserving energy through multiple pathways for peer engagement. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 38, 84-93. http://ac.els-cdn.com/S0272494414000048/1-s2.0-S0272494414000048-main.pdf?_tid=d27dbac4-c0bb-11e4-8611-00000aab0f01&acdnat=1425287545_808e8dd8c451899472570f28dab59d15

 

 

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