Social media: democracy’s new friend

David Gutman

What does freedom mean to us? Freedom to speak out against something whenever we want? The freedom to practice a religion that revolves around a single grain of sand and not get penalized by the government?

It is my opinion that we as Americans take these freedoms for granted. But even as some people lose their sights on the true American values, some people are finding even more ways to express their freedoms.

The Knight Foundation recently conducted a study to determine how many teens and young adults express their freedom of speech and get their news from. The answer wasn’t extremely surprising.

The studies shown that 75 percent of all students surveyed get their news from social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. The other 25 percent claimed that they used the Internet to find out the news.

This is very intriguing considering the fact that these websites are mostly known for being gossip centrals.

But the fact is that these sites are venues for free speech that have just entered the world. With this growing feed of information more and more students and young adults are realizing their freedom potential.

In 2006, a poll was taken by the foundation to determine how many students think that the freedom of speech goes too far in their freedoms: 45 percent said yes and 37 percent said no.

The same study was conducted in early 2011 and the shift was quite dramatic with only 25 percent saying yes and 67 percent saying no.

Every year more and more people are appreciating the first amendment.

Strangely enough in this progressive society only 35 percent of teachers think that high school students should be able to write about controversial issues in a student newspaper without school authority.

So no freedom of the press? Even when dealing with young adults trying to figure out their place in their lives they are still told to write what a teacher tells them to write.

Incidentally detailed classroom instruction on the first amendment is down to eight percent since 2007.

Students who have been taught in detail their first amendment rights were polled as seven percent more likely to support freedom of censorship in music, freedom to have unpopular opinions, and total freedom of the press.

Now if the studies showed that using social media and reading up on what is happening on the outside world is better for us, then maybe we should keep doing it.


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