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School-age children 'increasingly reluctant to discuss politics on social media'

17/01/2018 Kelly

A new survey of school-age children has highlighted further the growing need for schools to provide support on safe, responsible use of social media, especially when it comes to discussing sensitive social and political topics.

The independent youth news platform Shout Out UK has surveyed 6,259 British youngsters under the age of 18, and found that 78 per cent of them believe that talking about politics on social media will hurt their chances of getting a job in the future, while 15 per cent think it will cause arguments and seven per cent fear being judged for their opinions.

When questioned further, it was indicated that 82 per cent would expect or have already experienced potential employers checking their social media accounts, with 93 per cent feeling they would be judged based on the political views they expressed.

This is because the young generation feel particularly strongly about such issues, partly influenced by a polarised political climate. 74 per cent of those polled said they judged others based on their political views, while 91 per cent identified the Brexit issue as one that has resulted in important political conversations and online debates into turning into 'slanging matches' and arguments.

Matteo Bergamini, founder of Shout Out UK, said: "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."

The findings underline the need for schools to ensure their pupils are educated on the benefits and risks of maintaining an active social media profile, while also potentially suggesting a need for greater political literacy among school-aged children.

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