It’s been an unusual and unnerving start to the new year. We’re still in the grips of a global pandemic and we’ve seen violence erupt at the US Capitol. So, how are young people processing everything that’s going on? One solution is connecting with others – increasingly, in online communities like Yubo. In the first two weeks of 2021, Yubo users created more than 20,000 live streams about President Trump.
As writer and youth advocate Anne Collier, who is a member of the Yubo safety board, notes, “So many of us lost heart, our voices, our strength at different points in the past year, and possibly none more than young people.” In a recent blog, Anne examined how Gen Z artists and activists use social media to discuss the issues of the day and drive change. Indeed, more and more young people are committed to being active citizens. In 2019, almost three quarters of respondents (73%) to a study by Irregular Labs agreed that being politically or socially engaged is very important to their identity – and that was before the life-changing events of the last 12 months.
Recognising this groundswell of interest in politics and activism among young people, we regularly canvass the Yubo community. Last year, we ran a series of polls on issues such as the Black Lives Matter protests, the UK Government’s U-turn on A level grades and the US presidential election. Our poll about the BLM protests found that 88% of respondents felt that Black Americans are treated differently to others and 86% said that peaceful protests are necessary to create significant change. Almost half of the Yubo users (45%) who took part in this 2020 survey said they consider themselves to be an activist.
In our most recent poll (on 11 January 2021), we asked Yubo users in the US for their views on the recent events in Washington D.C. and their expectations of the Biden administration. More than 19,000 13 to 25-year-olds who use the Yubo app responded to our survey. Their opinions about what happened at the US Capitol include:
- 73% said they considered the Capitol riots to be an act of domestic terrorism
- Two thirds of respondents (66%) thought President Trump should be impeached following the events (it has since been announced that he has been impeached for a second time and faces trial in the Senate)
- 77% believed that the Capitol rioters would have been treated differently if they were from black or other minority groups
- In response to the question ‘Do you hope Congress will vote for stricter gun control laws as a result of the recent events?’, more than half of respondents (56%) answered "yes, but I don't think they will" and more than a quarter (27%) said "no"
Looking ahead to the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, we asked Yubo users about the Biden administration’s potential impact on society. Their responses include:
- The most important issue for the President-elect should be racial justice (74%) – less than half of respondents (48%) feel there has been positive change for Black Americans since the BLM protests in 2020
- Other priority issues include human rights (66%) and healthcare (62%)
- 43% of respondents said they were “unsure” whether the Biden administration will make a difference for minority groups in the US whilst 38% said it will make a difference and 18% said it won’t
It is clear that many young people, including those in the Yubo community, are upset and angry about recent events. The double standard of the police response in comparison to that of the BLM protests is a particular concern. As one journalist wrote in the Washington Post, “Our tweens and teens don’t feel safe. They are confused. They are angry. In other words, they feel like we do.”
But Gen Z is also resilient, focused and passionate about making tomorrow better. With many young voters helping to elect Biden (around two thirds of 18 to 24-year-olds are thought to have voted for him), they are now waiting with bated breath for a peaceful transfer of power. How will the next President deal with the impact of COVID-19 on people’s health and the economy? How will he tackle widespread racial and gender inequalities? And what action will he take on climate change?
One of the panelists in a recent session in Mashable’s Social Good Series commented that activism shouldn’t be viewed as “one or two people doing big things” but as “many people doing a lot of small things”. Here at Yubo, we’ll continue to provide millions of young people with a safe space in which they can talk, provide support and push for change. Through our polls, we’ll engage with them on the issues that matter and keep you posted about what they say.