How we engage our youth of today has changed because the world around us has changed so much in terms of technology. Technology and the advancement of digital has made such a big difference in the last ten to twenty years. The International Youth Day summit was held a couple of weeks back and was tagged “Engaging Youth For Global Action”.
Below is an excerpt from the Parenting Today weekly radio talk show with Yetty Williams from LagosMums on LagosTalks on 91.3 FM. On the show, we talked about how youth can be engaged in society as a whole.
Do The Youth of Today Want to be Engaged?
A lot of youth and children today have an alternative to real life, and this is their virtual world where they can easily hide in. Society tends to misread that and think that means they don’t want to be engaged. Even adults do not have all the answers because of the changes occurring in the world of today. We need to offer our younger ones our shoulders and experiences as the ladder for them to take a view of the world. The way we engage them might be different from what we are used to.
One of the things about this generation of youth is that they are actually very lonely, and a lot of parents don’t really understand that. Why are they lonely? They are more connected online, but they actually have fewer quality relationships. A survey from the UK made a finding that 16-24-year-olds experience loneliness more often and more intensely than any other age group. 40% of respondents aged 16-24 reported feeling lonely often or very often; while only 29% of people aged 65 – 74 and 27% of people aged over 75 said the same. To a large extent, this can be attributed to the fact that the social sills of youth today are not what they used to be.
They don’t actually spend a lot of time building relationships. In reality, they can have a thousand friends online; and when it comes to who they can actually call when they need help, they might not have up to two or three phone numbers to call. While they seem to be very connected; there is a depths of loneliness, that only quality human connection can fill.
Discerning the truth
The youth of today have a dilemma when it comes to identifying the truth. Anybody can share whatever viewpoints they have; thanks to the internet and social media platforms. This has both its pros and cons. It can be difficult for people to discern what is really true versus what is just somebody’s opinion.
Younger people need the skill and discernment to filter out which information they get and take as truth. They are facing a barrage of constant information but must understand that this doesn’t mean that all the content they consume are opinions for them to hold on to.
Lack Of Direction aka Too Many Options
The youth of today have a big decision on what path they should or want to take in life. This is in part due to the many uncertainties in our society and also because of too many choices. The question becomes; How do I decide what I want to do in a world where there is so much opportunity and so many options available?
In the past, there were certain paths to follow for success in life. A common path included, study a particular subject to enter a specific industry, get a job, work in a company for years and then you retire with a pension. Now a lot of that has changed; jobs are not as secure, new jobs and whole new industries keep popping up. So there is a lot to decide and it appears that the world is changing at a faster pace than the youth of today can catch up with.
Youth do not always know how to verbalise what their concerns are or what they are trying to figure out; because this is also the generation that feels they have all the answers. They need to figure out how to balance the easy access to information they have with someone who has the experience and whom they can trust to talk to.
What can young adults do to overcome some of these factors and be ready to become leaders of tomorrow?
Improving on their Interests
The youth of today are open to a lot of opportunities in the virtual digital world to learn and develop their skills. Thus, they are encouraged to improve on their interests; by being curious in positive ways and by feeding their curiosity. They should interact with people related to their interests, such as online mentors; invest in their programmes, read widely, listen to podcasts, and learn from the experiences of positive mentors and role models.
It is also important that you don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t feel that you need to have all the answers. Youth nowadays get caught up with the idea that they have all the answers, thanks to Google. The truth is with focus any area of interest ‘can bring you success’. However, everyone must do the work to spend the time on investing or improving what you know, or what you think you are interested in to be able to excel.
This is an important way of coping and adapting for youth as they pave their way and decide on their path. This is trying your hand at your interest in safe spaces where you can learn and get feedback; such as volunteering to gain experience. It is really important to volunteer because the reality is that there are not a lot of jobs out there. Youth can take the initiative to reach out to people or companies and volunteer their services. Building your resume from as young as 13 will help in the future.
How Can Parents Effective
Firstly, parents need to realise that youth and young adults are not children anymore and as such are not looking for you to tell them what to do. But they need you to engage with them almost as a coach or consultant and to have real conversations with them. In addition, you need to be ready to really listen to them. They want to know that you understand how they view the world and what they are going through. This will open the lines for true communication and engagement.
Secondly, it is very important to make sure you understand your child’s ‘love language’, which should not be overlooked because they are youth. There is a way they need to be loved by their parents. So you need to know what that is. Does your child like spending time watching the news with you? Is it a child who likes to dance? Is it a child who likes to cook? This is a time to ensure that you are engaging at all these levels. Share information with them whenever you come across things that are related to their field of interest.
All youth require guidance in all of their fields; either from home or away from home. The society needs to engage them in a positive way, and help them to make sense of the world by helping them to develop their interest.
No matter how talented or gifted, they need to develop the right attitude, character and be willing to go over and beyond to develop themselves.
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