Internet- A Vehicle towards Youth Political Engagement
The internet has played a very significant role in transforming people’s lives. Its advent has changed the world into a well-connected global entity that gives and receives information regardless of geography. This cyber space has with no doubt created an opportunity, especially, for young people to explore innovative ideas, connect with likeminded people and most importantly have access to learning information that to many, has made 21 st century learning lot more easier.
Beyond self-development and world connectivity, the internet has incredible influenced civic participation and political consciousness particularly of youth. Information, news and political updates are irresistibly available in abundance on the internet which to a larger extent has ignited the interest of many to follow political trends and ultimately participate in such processes. Youth today get their political information from Facebook rather than the legacy traditional media such as radio, television and newspapers. The information given is more interactive, user friendly, concise and easier to comprehend. This availability of information according to some schools of thought has increased the interactive behaviour of youth especially on matters of governance, elections and the general trends in world politics.
The Internet as a Legitimising Space for New Political Practices
The internet has given the interactive flare to the processes and procedures in the modern day politics. People have the ability to interact and share their thoughts and even suggest their own way of doing things over that of the existing politicians. As a platform with less coercive and controlling hand, young people have seen an opportunity in the use of internet to influence public opinion and express pleasure or displeasure of certain political circumstances. Majority of youth-led and interest-based communities and organisations consider use of internet to be open and democratic, resisting the tendency to control or manage forms of participation. It is thus arguably correct that the internet somehow has influenced the attitude and willingness of young people in having an interest in the way they are governed and a great opportunity for inclusivity.
Internet as a Convenient Tool for Mobilization
The availability of Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and other platforms foster exposure to political mobilization and make political information more available. Online media is, thus, a potential means of recruiting people that were not politically motivated before into a new political activity. The recent ouster of Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe was characterised by mass protests and demonstrations on the streets whose reality was facilitated by the quick flow of information via internet platforms.
The Need to Liberate Internet, Media and the Right to Information
The only way in which a people can express their feelings, disappointments and satisfaction is through information access. It is from this background that the liberation of information access particularly the internet and media determines the levels of citizen interaction and oversight on public matters. Young Zimbabweans have that duty to negotiate a pathway towards media and information liberties that promotes the democratic gender and foster inclusive development. It is however, important to realise that the enjoyment of human rights should come with responsibility.
It is undoubtedly correct that the internet has influenced youth political behaviour and one of the vehicles of change not on in Zimbabwe but also in other countries like The United States of America, Egypt, Libya, Kenya and more. The negative aspects of internet as a tool for development should also be regulated by low and not go unattended.