Polls show young disinterested in politics, but wanting to vote

FTFEY
Tina Fey (left) as Sarah Palin, and Amy Pohler as Hillary Clinton, in a 2008 "Saturday Night Live" sketch. Teens surveyed said they use TV shows and social media as information sources about elections. (Dana Edelson / NBCU Photo Bank)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau less than 20 percent of people ages 18 to 25 voted in 2008 presidential election. In a poll conducted via Facebook, 10 out of 18 users said that getting high SAT scores or accepted to their dream school is preferably the center of their world right now.

"Politics today is not about who the better man is, but who's the weakest candidate," says Dwayne Henry in regards to the Republican candidates seeking the Republican nomination. Henry is a senior at Central High School of Philadelphia, and said he generally takes very little interest in politics.

So, do teens care about politics, or are they more focused on passing a chemistry exam and helping their athletic team win a championship?

During a phone interview with Henry, he mentioned that, "politics just isn't interesting." He feels as though politics is something one must constantly follow, not something one can just think about one week and then jump back into weeks later.

Do young people today have short attention spans when it comes to politics? "We're just busy. We have a lot on our plates," Henry said.

But surprisingly, in a second poll conducted via Facebook, 20 out of 30 users said that when they first turn 18, they're going to register to vote. Six of the users who took the poll opted out to get a tattoo or piercing after their 18th birthday rather than exercise this civic duty.

The other five users surveyed chose to buy lottery tickets. Many might be shocked by these results given that the younger generation is referred to as the Multitasking Generation by Time magazine.

In the third poll, nine out of 12 users agreed that the media influence their opinions in making an enlightened decision on a political candidate as opposed to talking to their parents or friends.

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, BET and Saturday Night Live are all utilized by teens and young people today as information resources on diverse topics. The media can be both helpful and contradicting in how they persuade young voters to participate in elections.

Positive influences such as MTV's Rock the Vote encourage voters 18 to 25 to not only register to vote, but to become informed about the candidates and to form their own opinions. They also give young people the opportunity to register to vote online.

It's not just teens who don't care about the issues - they just care more about the ones that affect them.

Tanaja Lloyd, another senior at Central, said that she doesn't care about presidents and elections, but she does care about financial aid and if the government will help students pay for college.

Raquel Watson, a junior at Central, also feels that whomever is elected is not important, just as long as they make the country better. She said that her vote "can have an effect on her future, and that's all that counts."

Teens also fear that when it comes to campaigns, there is more negative than positive things being done.

One student mention that politicians care more about the popular vote than focusing on what's important. Issues such as abortion, gay rights and education are big with young voters and they would like to see what is being done to dress these issues.