An international voice: My concerns as a young person in today’s world

| June 24, 2016

Is today’s youth really mindless, lazy and technology-dependent? Megan Boehm is a young American student, and here she shares some of the big issues her generation really is concerned about.

A common mindset seems to be that today’s youth are stuck in the digital world. Everywhere you look, a teen is intently staring at a cell phone, texting their friends or playing Candy Crush. We are more connected than ever. The Internet solves our problems for us and answers our questions. But all of this has turned our children into mindless, lazy, technology-dependent zombies.

Newsflash: we aren’t mindless. We still have intuition and drive, and we are more capable of adapting to new situations and surroundings as we keep up with a changing world. Our young minds are aware that the world isn’t perfect. We all have our own problems, and we have many of them in common. These so-called “youth issues” often seem to get pushed aside. But, as the size of new generations continues to grow, the issues that accompany them grow as well.

Here are seven major issues that today’s young people like myself are concerned about:

1) Equality and equity

An issue of great personal importance to me is equality and equity. Many young people feel that the old laws and social norms of discrimination have no place in the 21st century. Every person deserves the same rights, responsibilities, and opportunities. Many of us also believe that those who are underprivileged deserve extra assistance and care. Many groups are affected, such as minorities, refugees, persons with disabilities, and those in the lower class. With equality and equity comes acceptance. While each person is entitled to his or her own opinion, we, as humans, have a duty to care for and support each other, regardless of our differences.

2) Employment

Employment is a troublesome worry of mine. Am I receiving quality education for the price that I am paying? What are my chances of finding a stable job with good benefits after I graduate? Many students, including myself, feel pressured to pursue additional degrees, such as a Master’s or PhD. Would my investment in an additional degree actually pay off in the end?

3) Politics

Many politicians ‘forget’ (either intentionally or unintentionally) about young voters. In turn, many young people are neither educated about nor interested in the political process. It is crucial for all voters to be concerned and take action, as the decisions made today will affect the world that we will have to live in tomorrow. Some politicians, such as Bernie Sanders in the U.S., have scooped up the opportunity to engage and entertain young voters. But are radical political ideas affecting the way youth see possibility and reality?

4) Healthcare

Healthcare is still an ongoing issue and debate in many countries across the globe. With rising costs, it seems as if we must determine and limit conditions that require medical treatment. As a student, I am overwhelmed with financial issues. In addition to worrying about paying for my education and rent while at college, I am now at the age where I must worry about the cost of my health and the treatment I receive. How am I possibly supposed to find health insurance that will meet all of my needs and concerns? With changes in healthcare and insurance, how am I supposed to know what is considered an acceptable policy? Will I be able to afford the care I need as I get older?

5) The environment

Popular celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio have taken a stand to protect the environment and combat climate change. I am also concerned about the environment. I still have 50 to 70 years left to live on this planet. It’s not going to be a fun time if I can’t visit the ocean because it’s filled with trash and the ozone is destroyed to the point where I can only be outside for short periods of time (if at all). The way we treat our planet today directly affects the planet that we have to live on in the future. We cannot keep putting off change; we are no longer at the point where we can say ‘we’ll be dead before it gets too bad.’ My future kids and I may very well be living in a time where it is ‘too bad.’

6) Technology

Technology is everywhere you look. And it is constantly changing, growing and improving. While I may be more technologically-inclined than my parents, how will I be able to keep up with my future tech-savvy children? Additionally, will we increasingly criticize future generations for their technology dependence?

7) Mental Health 

Mental health concerns are not an issue unique to the United States or Australia. It is a global issue that affects millions of people. Mental health has connections rooted in healthcare, family and social relationships, employment and the justice system. Too many young people are suffering and ending their lives. We need to place greater importance on caring for ourselves, our neighbors and people we have never even met. Many people find it difficult to support mental healthcare research and reform because they cannot ‘see’ it and therefore cannot evaluate it. However, someone suffering from a mental illness can be hurting even more than someone with a physical illness. It is crucial that we push for policies and funding to take care of our mental health needs.

I believe that the first step towards finding a solution is to identify the problem. If we facilitate dialogue concerning the issues we face, we can gather more minds to collectively come up with a solution. The issues that are concerning to youth are not exclusive to youth: they affect all of us.



  1. Max Thomas

    Max Thomas

    June 29, 2016 at 6:18 am

    A common cause

    Thank you Megan for the opportunity to read your views on the concerns of young people. You mentioned popular celebrities taking a stand to protect the environment. The lyrics of Dylan or Carson's book "Silent Spring", for example, might seem to belong to an older generation but a vast array of literature relevant to the issues you raised, dating back to the 1960's and beyond, shows that the generations have much in common. Electronic paraphernalia may be a refuge for some and the object of unfair criticism for others but, as you say, the issues are not exclusive to youth. So-called 'Baby-Boomers' resent being scapegoated for things over which they had little control. It is seldom recognised that their generation lived in terror of nuclear war. They were conscripted for active military service before they could vote. They had to fund their parents' retirement while saving for their own with interest rates at one stage close to 19%. I agree that durable solutions depend largely on adequate problem definition. Much of what concerns all of us can be described within a broad definition of economics. The basic problem being how to satisfy unlimited demand with limited resources. Environmental degradation results largely from 'The Tragedy of the Commons'. This is the dilemma of many individuals acting rationally and separately in their own self-interest, knowing that a shared and limited resource, such as the atmosphere, will ultimately be depleted or altered against the best interests of all. Failure to understand this leads to a kind of impasse between not only different socio-economic groups, but also between nations.   I am hopeful that younger people, by standing on the shoulders of those who preceded them, might find a way forward. Sometimes the connections are obscure but, ultimately, the issues you raised are interconnected. It is difficult to have a sensible discussion about health without including the environment and vice versa. The interrelated points you have thoughtfully selected for discussion would be no more significant had they been ventilated by more 'traditional' media. With demographics evolving as at present in the USA, I think you will have no trouble finding valuable and rewarding employment. Good luck!