JUDGING by the more alarmist news headlines from the past year, the current generation of young people are addicted to their phones, stuck to the couch, obsessed with selfies and corrupted by sexting and internet porn.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the gulf between old and young is wider than ever before, thanks to technology driving a wedge between parents and their children and a no-deal Brexit threatening to rob the young ones of freedoms and opportunities their elders took for granted for decades. It’s a gloomy picture indeed.

But is it really an accurate one? Or is it the case that negativity sells papers and generates clicks, while the many positive news stories about Scotland’s young people tend to be overlooked? And might it be these very disenfranchised youngsters who are ultimately inspired to take Scotland down a different path?

If you fancy a corrective pick-me-up, have a look at #YOYP2018ThrowBack, where Twitter users are sharing their highlights from the Scottish Government’s Year of Young People – a massive initiative directed by more than 500 young ambassadors from all over the country and involving countless young Scots aged from eight to 26.

From organising an exhibition at Edinburgh International Science Festival, designing a launch event for the new V&A museum in Dundee, programming a youth strand at Edinburgh International Film Festival and staging Scotland’s first ever Youth Urban Games in Glasgow, young people weren’t just part of some of the country’s most exciting events in 2018 – they were instrumental in making them happen.

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This wasn’t about pushing a few token teenagers to the front to pay lip-service to inclusion – the aim was to demonstrate that young people of all ages can raise their voices, be heard and really make a difference. And not just for 12 months, but far into the future as well.

If the year has had the desired effect, those young people who grabbed the microphone (or megaphone) in 2018 won’t be content to turn down the volume again just because we’ve changed our calendars.

Hopefully they won’t be putting down their pens or closing their laptops either, as The National will continue to provide a platform for young people to write about their lives, achievements and hopes for the future.

The National:

Alasdair Lewis Laing wrote about his passion for Gaelic

Our weekly Year of Young People series has featured inspiring contributions from all over the country, covering a diverse range of topics from body image and basic income to action against climate change and the importance of music tuition in schools. Our youngest contributors were eight-year-old Cub Scout and aspiring ninja Oliver and nine-year-old fundraiser and part-time stormtrooper Emma, while at the other end of the age range we had 26-year-olds Alasdair Lewis Laing, who wrote about his passion for Gaelic – and challenging dismissive attitudes towards the language – and Pinar Aksu, who wrote about creating powerful pieces of community theatre exploring integration and the asylum process.

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In between were accomplished young sportsmen and women, carers and volunteers, campaigners, scientists, artists, poets and performers. We heard from 12-year-old maths whizz Dhruv Maheshwari, who uses an ancient technique from India to carry out calculations; 16-year-old Niamh Jobson, who wrote beautifully about her experience of life on Eigg; and 15-year-old Caitie Dundas, who made a powerful case for voting rights to begin at the age she was shortly due to become.

Some of our contributors were born here, while others were adopted Scots. Some were involved in local or even national politics, while others campaigned for specific issues that mattered to them, such as 24-year-old Amie Robertson, who wants to see prisoners in Scotland given the vote; and 26-year-old scientist Charlotte Young, whose study of coral reefs has inspired her to raise awareness of the environmental harm caused by microfibres.

Teacher Jennifer Black, 21, wrote in both Gaelic and English about the impact of social media on young people’s mental health, and 14-year-old Emma Stevens offered a pupil’s perspective, reflecting on how much of her life revolved around her phone and the pressure on young people to live up to images of “perfect lives”.

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We heard from young people who were passionate about politics, poetry and pantomime (though not all at the same time), boxing, weaving, singing and running their own businesses. Some wrote about facing adversity and illness, then taking opportunities to inspire and encourage others.

As we head into 2019, few would be rash enough to predict what Scotland, the UK or Europe will look like in another 12 months’ time. But this year has shown that while the adults might not have a clue what they’re doing, the kids are more than alright. If we keep listening, the future should be safe in their hands.