As college students' use of social media increases, so has the polarization of political views.
For my Sociology Capstone research study,
I was curious to discover just how much social media may influence college students' political ideologies.

 

Below is a super-simplified compilation of the primary and secondary research I collected. 
A lot of time and work went into this study to accumulate accurate data. If you would like to check out an in-depth report of my research and my analysis, check out the PDF HERE!

THE TOPIC

How College Students' Use Of Facebook & Twitter
Influences, Changes, or Reinforces
their Political Ideologies

BACKGROUND

College students are frequently turning to social media for instant access to political news.
However, today’s college students are not as politically involved, or politically active as older generations were.

METHODOLOGY

Surveyed 63 college students to answer questions regarding their political affiliation and ideologies, as well as questions that give further insight into how the political news they consume on Facebook and Twitter influences their political beliefs.

KEY FINDINGS

College students trust Twitter substantially more than Facebook.

 

Students believe Twitter has a Liberal bias,
while Facebook has a Conservative bias.

 

Students are greatly distrustful
and concerned with how the circulation of political news perpetuates bias.

Everything in political news must be taken with a grain of salt as it usually doesn’t show the whole story.”

                                                                  - Anonymous Respondent

“I think the rise in opinion-based reporting, as well as a dying news market combined with the ease of access to information, is creating an environment that easily spreads misinformation rapidly with little ability to stop it. this cycle is perpetuating the continued divide in our country

                                                                       - Anonymous Respondent

THE SURVEY

  • Administered via Google Forms.

  • Multiple-choice, scale, and written questions.

  • Distributed through:
    -My Twitter and Facebook page
    -VCU class Facebook page.
    -Direct messages to friends enrolled in a college.
    -Emailed link to students in five of my courses. 

  • -Reddit.com: r/RVA, r/College, and r/samplesize 

  • Part 1: Demographic questions

  • Part 2: Asked about current political affiliation and ideologies, and their use of Facebook and Twitter as a source of political news. 

THE DEMOGRAPHICS

. . .60%
identified as a Democrat with Liberal political Ideologies.

. . .40%
feel Twitter exposed them to more political news than Facebook

. . .43% feel Twitter circulated more reliable/truthful political news than Facebook

. . .24% said they use Twitter as their primary source of political news.

. . .0% said they use Facebook as their primary source of political news?

THE POLITICAL VIEWS

Of the 63 college students. . .

Which is more
Liberally biased?

Which is more Conservatively biased?

49%

Saw a Liberal post that made them question their prior political ideologies.

40%

Saw a Conservative post that made them question their prior political ideologies.

On a scale from 1-5, how trustworthy are you of political news journalism? (1=Not concerned,
5=Very concerned)

On a scale from 1-5, how concerned are you about the current state of Political News Journalism in America? (1=Not concerned,
5=Very concerned)

The final multiple-choice survey question had the respondents choose between Liberal and Conservative news as being more trustworthy and explain why they feel that way.

Here's what some of them said...

Why do you believe that LIBERAL news is more trustworthy?

“I feel that conservative news is more likely to be false, fear-mongering, use scare tactics, and less basis in science, statistics, and facts.”

Why do you believe that CONSERVATIVE news is more trustworthy?

"Because of Facts."

Why are you UNSURE which is more trustworthy?

“I feel that news outlets have a tendency to put their spin on the information, instead of just give the straight facts.”

Why do you think NEITHER is trustworthy?

“News is supposed to be objective, and just facts news that is biassed towards a certain school of thinking shouldn't be considered as news”

*Word cloud of responses.

CONCLUSION

While heavy exposure to political news may influence student's political ideologies, there's more concern with how political news is distributed, citing political news bias as the biggest problem affecting modern journalism.

Check out an in-depth look at my research and my analysis HERE.

Thank you for checking out my work!