Survey: Generation Z Divided Over First Amendment

High school age girls and people of color, who face more online bullying, are more likely to say the First Amendment "goes too far" in protecting speech boys and white students.

That is one of the main takeaways from the latest Future of the First Amendment Knight Foundation report analyzing the results of seven surveys of high school students between 2004 and 2018.

According to Knight, beginning in 2011--about the same time of general adoption of social media--a slight majority of girls and students of color agreed with the statement: "The First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees," while a slight majority of boys and white students disagreed.

White students' support for the First Amendment has been relatively stable, while students of color increasingly say the First Amendment goes too far.

Another major takeaway was that when students studied the First Amendment and the rights it guarantees, they are "generally more supportive" of those protections, and less likely to think the amendment goes too far.

The report also found that, generally, students in the Midwest and West were most supportive of the First Amendment, while students in the Northeast and South were more likely to say that the First Amendment goes too far.

As for the freedom to publish news online, boys were "significantly more supportive" of online news freedom than girls, and more supportive of people being able to say whatever they want, including offensive statements.

While students overall "mildly disagree" that schools should be able to discipline students posting offensive content online, girls and students of color are more supportive of punishments and girls are more supportive of government intervention for bullying or offensive comments on social media.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.