Staying plugged into news

Staying up to date on current events is the exception for many students these days. With the rapid development of technology, information can be shared faster than ever. Breaking news from all over the world can be communicated instantaneously as it is occurring.

However, most teenagers don’t use this to their advantage. They ignore what is going on outside American borders, and some are totally oblivious to major occurrences beyond the community.

It’s human nature to only care about the events that directly affect our day-to-day lives and tune out the rest of the world. According to a Newsweek article published on March 22, 2011, 38% of Americans would fail the U.S. citizenship test. Some Americans are not only unaware of international news, but also clueless about the organization of our government. Many teenagers are more interested in what Justin Bieber is doing than what our government is doing, and that needs to change. Upholding democratic values becomes impossible when the majority of American citizens are uninformed.

Even worse, according to a National Geographic poll, 60 percent of young adults could not locate Iraq on a map of the Middle East. Perhaps most surprising is that one-third of young Americans struggled finding Louisiana on a map during Hurricane Katrina.

But as soon-to-be voters, teenagers need to stop being ignorant and start observing the world around them. We cannot possibly vote for the best presidential candidate if we don’t understand his or her policies. Similarly, as future businessmen, engineers, doctors, and lawyers, we need to be equipped with extensive knowledge of diverse cultures and ideas to stay informed in an increasingly global society.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to fix this problem. The most obvious solution is to watch, read, and listen to the news on a daily basis. Instead of aimlessly reading status updates on Facebook, students should productively browse the headlines on the CNN webpage. During TV commercials, they should flip to a news channel for a current events update. Music lovers should listen to news stations instead of music on the radio from time to time. Or better yet, subscribe to your favorite news publications on Twitter to always stay connected. All of these are effective solutions, yet none require devoting special time to news reading.

But students should not just observe. Anyone can easily express opinions on issues through social media, blogs, or in discussion. Politicians are now paying attention to what people are saying about them online, so feeling uninvolved is no longer an excuse for being ignorant. Reactions to events deserve to be heard, and is encouraged under our right to freedom of speech.

Whether it’s replacing an hour on Facebook with reading the New York Times, or starting a blog about the national debt crisis, everyone, from students to parents, can be informed and proactive citizens. If technology can revolutionize at breakneck speeds, then we can too.