We recently surveyed 6,259 British people under the age of 18, and discovered that more than three quarters (78%) think that talking about politics on social media will hurt their chances of getting a job in the future, 15% think it will cause arguments and 7% fear they will be judged on their political opinions.
We also found out that more than nine tenths (91%) think Brexit has turned important political conversations and online debates into ‘slanging matches’ and arguments.
We made sure that all respondents were under the age of 18, as it gave us an interesting insight to the younger generation, the way they use social media and how comfortable they are voicing and discussing their political views.
More than three quarters (82%) have had or would expect potential employers to check their social media accounts, and 93% of those felt they would be judged based on political views on their accounts. Less than a tenth (9%) said they would feel comfortable discussing politics at the workplace.
We included questions such as: ‘Have you ever had an argument on social media over politics?’ with more than half (60%) admitting they had and ‘Would you rather share your political opinions on Facebook or Twitter?’ with nearly half (48%) saying they’d rather discuss politics on Twitter than Facebook. When asked why, the majority said it was because they could find more like-minded people on Twitter as opposed to Facebook, however the 36% that preferred to use Facebook for political discussions said it was because of better security settings and it wasn’t so public.
Another question asked of the under 18’s was whether they judged people based on their political views, to which nearly three quarters (74%) admitted that they did.
Matteo Bergamini, founder of Shout Out UK said,
“We commissioned the survey to get an idea of what young people think of discussing politics openly on social media and I think it is massively damaging that so many under 18s believe they’d lose a job opportunity based on their political views. While it’s a good idea for young people to be aware of what they write on social media, open political debate should be actively encouraged, particularly in the current climate.
“Young people are often seen as disenfranchised from the political process and concerns like this are only going to make things worth. It’s vital that under 18s feel they can become engaged in politics at every level, especially when society is in the process of being reshaped thanks to Brexit.
“I hope that employers would reserve judgement on the political views of potential employees – unless they hold extremist views – and see it as a positive that they could hire someone passionate and actively involved in shaping society.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about politics and being part of the political process, then have a look at our Political Literacy Course.