It's a universal truth for young people that politics is a slightly distasteful word and slightly dangerous – something that should be handled only at the end of tongs, like night soil or typhus. According to Jamal Edwards, however, who is one of Britain's most successful young entrepreneurs, this can be fixed by a rather incongruous saviour: YouTube.
In an interview with the Telegraph Edwards outlined his concerns that politicians are not taking full advantage of the video sharing site, a failure that he is branding a colossal missed opportunity.
"The problem," said Edwards, "is that politicians don't use YouTube enough – and when they do, they're not doing it in the right way." According to the 23-year old YouTube is not just a video sharing site but a platform "to entertain, to inform, to get opinions across," especially with its connections to social media where millions of users can turn a video viral within a matter of hours.
The problem, however, is politicians don't seem to realise that - not least of which the Turkish government who imposed a nationwide ban on the website. Edwards argues that politicians who do use YouTube are creating videos without that vital shareable element. Instead "it's the same thing, just on a different platform," essentially monologues and unengaging content that young people who are used to inspiring, shocking or funny content do not relate to.
"A lot of the guys I meet who are my age say they wouldn't vote; that politics is rubbish and politicians don't want to help us. I tell them that unless we start voting, policies aren't going to be made for us. Politicians know older people vote so they get free bus passes, free TV licenses and the winter fuel allowance. When it comes to young people they treble tuition fees at the same time as cutting away our Education Maintenance Allowance and our youth clubs."
"It's a simple message but it's not being put across."
Do you think YouTube is a good way to engage with young people? Has your business launched a video via the site with great success? Let us know in the comments below.