As the use of social media has grown in the United States, so too has students’ appreciation for the First Amendment, suggests a new study by Knight Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting journalism and supporting communities across the USA.
However, teachers aren’t quite as positive about the merits of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook as their students – almost half believe that social media actually harms the learning process.
The study revealed a visible and positive relationship between social media use and appreciation of the First Amendment – 91 percent of students who use social networking sites on a daily basis to get news and information agreed that “people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions”, but only 77 percent of those who never use social networks felt the same way.
Perhaps surprisingly, the majority of teachers polled did not support free expression for their students – only 35 percent agreed that “high school students should be allowed to report controversial issues in their student newspapers without the approval of school authorities” and 49 percent of teachers felt that the emergence of digital media has harmed student learning. Only 39 percent saw it as a positive.
“This is the first generation in history that can text, tweet and blog to the whole world – it’s great news that their support is growing for the freedoms that let them do it,” said Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of Knight Foundation. “But the bad news is that teachers aren’t nearly as excited as students about social media or student freedom.”