Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 | 2:01 a.m.
About 1,000 students from high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 57th annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 13. The students were divided into groups to discuss a variety of topics. A representative was chosen from each group to write a column about the students’ findings. Jennifer Deng of Rancho High School writes about issues covered by her group, Teen Topics.
Although adults lay down the iron laws, make plans for the future and regulate society as it stands today, it is the adolescents who are — and rightfully should be — the voice of the future. The concerns of tomorrow will be the reality of the present for those in my generation, and the generations to come. And on Nov. 13, a plethora of bright, outspoken individuals rallied together to give voice to the topics most important to society.
Throughout our everyday lives is the prominence and need for technology. As technology is further integrated into daily activities, the very concept of it was a heavyweight in my group. There were straightforward questions regarding technology, such as “restrictions on cellphone use,” “texting and driving,” “the role of media,” “technology and its correlation with being socially inept,” and even simpler topics such as “video games.”
Most students agreed that technology is a wonderful tool if used correctly. Our discussion reached a pinnacle regarding the role of media and whether technology is linked with an individual becoming socially inept. The majority believed that media has truly harmed the way people see themselves, especially teenagers. The definition of beauty is now used to discriminate and bully people, especially in the case of cyberbullying.
Although some students argued that media has been an inspiration and a positive influence, and although that can be the case, there are always two sides to a coin. One general outlook we all agreed on was that media should reflect the voices and mindset of society and the individuals, and not let our mindsets reflect the media.
Progressing from technology and media, more controversial topics were laid on the table. Many of these topics had to deal with the all-encompassing limitation of age. All of the students denied with vigor the idea that a simple number should define what we are capable of. Thus, topics such as “curfew for minors,” “legal drinking age” and “the voting age” became catalysts for some poignant claims.
However, it is true that development and maturity does not reach a bloom until the mid-20s. At the same time, lowering the legal drinking age and voting age, in large part, has to do with how much awareness the individual has.
Some students believed that the drinking age and voting age should be raised because we don’t fully understand political issues at 18, nor do we make fully conscious decisions at 21. Others argued that it was dependent on the person, and regardless of age, knowledge of political issues and self-control can be learned or forsaken at any age.
We came to a consensus that overall society needs to be more educated, not just teenagers. We must be educated in the details involving government and politics, the affects of drinking, and be fully aware of the responsibilities of both.
It is both invigorating and motivating that young adults are being recognized as the leaders of tomorrow. Change can only be made when action is implemented from the collection and cooperation of great minds. The Sun Youth Forum provides not just a medium but also a propelling force for this much-anticipated change.