School pupils who will be old enough to vote in next year's independence referendum have warmly welcomed plans to lower the age limit to 16.
The proposal, lodged at the Scottish Parliament, means people as young as 14 are now considering their views on whether Scotland should remain in political union with the rest of the UK.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon marked the introduction of the Scottish Referendum (Franchise) Bill by visiting about 30 future voters at James Gillespie's High School in Edinburgh.
Fourteen-year-old Niall Schiefler, a second-year pupil, said there is work to be done to get more people interested. He said: "A lot of young people like us are very engaged and understand. The parliament will have to work hard to ensure people will use their vote. They might not know how it will affect them."
Despite his concerns, he said he is excited to be given the opportunity to vote at a young age. He said: "For me it's definitely a positive thing. I don't have a fixed viewpoint on how I'll vote but I think it's great I'll be able to vote on something that will have such an impact."
Third-year pupil Rachel Chowings, 14, said: "I think it's very important. When you're 16 you can do lots of things, but not vote. I'm not sure how I'll vote, but I think most people will vote. It's the future of our country."
Jack Doig, 14, also in the third year, said he already has strong views on the debate and intends to vote Yes. But he is concerned that teachers and politicians have to get more people involved.
He said: "Not all young people are informed and maybe don't take modern studies at school. I'm quite interested in it and, if I get into a debate or argument about the referendum, some people can seem quite uneducated."
School headteacher Donald Macdonald said: "This is hugely important. To people who question it, I would turn the argument on its head. If they were able to vote now and that power was taken away, there would be an outcry. They are aware of the issues."
He said there should be no concern about whether younger people can be manipulated by either side of the debate. He said: "This is the age group least likely to be manipulated. Any view presented as the orthodoxy will be challenged. There is pressure on us and a duty to make sure it's balanced. The parallel would be with religious education, which we have taught successfully for a long time."