Pando

For the first time, high schoolers care more than adults about the 1st Amendment

By David Holmes , written on September 17, 2014

From The News Desk

We've said it once and we'll say it again: The kids are alright.

Young people in America, despite attracting the ire of their elders for no other reason than being young, save more than their parents, read more books than their parents, and, according to a new Knight Foundation study, care more about the 1st Amendment than their parents.

Today, only 24 percent of American high school students say the 1st Amendment "goes too far," compared to 38 percent of American adults.

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The Knight Foundation then broke this support down, asking high schoolers if they think people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions -- 88 percent said yes, compared to only 76 percent in 2007. The number of high schoolers who think journalists should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of a story is only 61 percent, but that's still an increase over the 51 percent of students who felt this way a year ago.

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The increase in accepting unpopular opinions is worth noting in light of recent Pew study that found that social media makes people even less likely to share these unpopular opinions. And yet over half the students who most strongly agree that unpopular opinions should be shared use social media more than once a day. Therefore, the fact that they support the dissemination of unpopular opinions does not necessarily mean they're likely to share those types of opinions themselves.

In addition to a disconnect between high schoolers and adults in general, there was also a disconnect between students and teachers. For example, 61 percent of students say student newspapers should be allowed to cover controversial issues without the approval of school authorities. Meanwhile, only 41 percent of teachers agree with this same statement.

Pew's data only goes back to 2004 so it's hard to know if this is a return to normal in the wake of post-911 1st Amendment bashing or a true surge unique to this generation. In any case, this study is yet another reason to have faith in future generations.

[Image via Thinkstock]