Support for the First Amendment freedoms among high school students is higher today than in previous years, but about 26 percent believe that it goes too far in the rights it guarantees.
Kenneth Dautrich, professor at the University of Connecticut, carried out a survey in 2018 on the future of the First Amendment among more than 9,000 students and 500 teachers.
The findings suggest that the students distinguished the right to express “unpopular opinions” from “offensive speech.” Most of the students, nearly 89 percent, supported the right to express unpopular opinions while only half as many, about 45 percent, believed that people have the right to speech that others consider offensive.
Nearly 50 percent of the surveyed students believed social media stifles expression because people block those with opposing views. People are also less interested to share their views due to the fear of bitter encounters.
The survey also asked questions about “fake news” in journalism. Only half as many students as teachers viewed fake news as a significant threat to democracy. Most students said they have come across fake news while only 20 percent expressed great confidence in their ability to recognize inaccurate news.
Dautrich; Kenneth (2018). The Future Of The First Amendment: 2018 Survey of high school students and teachers. Knight Foundation.