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Social Media vs Word of Mouth

Every year in America, citizens have the right and privilege to vote for the person who is going to represent their country. Some of the general requirements a person has to meet in order to vote is being a citizen, be 18 years of age by election day, not to be convicted of a felony, and not judged incompetent by a court. However, although you need to be 18, people of all ages have their thoughts and opinions on who they would like to see become president. I thought it would be interesting to see younger kids’ thoughts on the election, and where they’re getting these thoughts. To be able to see what people of all ages think, I conducted a survey of kids in elementary school, kids in junior high school, and high school students. In the end, my survey was very close indicator of the actual outcome of the Presidential election.

Prior to my survey, my prediction was that the younger students would have less knowledge on topics of the election, and they would be unsure of what to say and not have much evidence or facts to support their choice. After conducting the survey I was very surprised with the results. The first boy I talked to was eleven years old and in fifth grade. His choice of who to vote for was Donald Trump. I asked him what influenced his decision, and the only thing that had influenced him was his family. Even though his family was the only thing influencing him, he was very well educated about the elections and past elections.he gave me good reasoning for voting for Trump, even though Trump is widely disliked, he was able to take examples of why he is disliked and dispute  it. The next few people I surveyed were all about eleven as well and also chose Trump with some reasoning to back it up. Another girl I surveyed was eight years old and she said she was voting for Hillary Clinton, what was influencing her was her parents and the fact she was a girl. I also asked a very young kid at the age of five, and he picked Donald Trump because “that’s the only name he knew.” Overall with my elementary school survey, I observed that 90% of the kids chose the candidate because that is who their parents are voting for. Also, many kids only knew the big things that are talked about a lot, for example that Trump wants to build a wall and that Hillary lied about emails. However there were also kids that had attended rallies and could give good reasoning.  There were kids at both ends of the spectrum for the elementary students.

             The second set of surveys I conducted was of high school students. Before conducting the survey,  I assumed that they would have the most knowledge and opinions on the election. However, while asking questions it was easy to tell that majority felt that neither Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton were a good option, therefore did not care about the election and didn’t know any real facts. Out of the ten students, seven votes for Donald Trump. Generally, all of their reasons were the same. They said that they agreed with the gun policy and immigration policy. Even though they could give reasons to support those issues, that is all they knew. This is concerning when, at seventeen, you are close to the voting age and there is much more to being president than gun control and illegal immigration. For the other three people, only one person, Cassie, who is a senior at Shaker High School, voted for Hillary Clinton. Cassie is a seventeen year old girl and she said she enjoyed following politics. She said she got most of her information from the news and the democratic platform. She also said she doesn’t like conservative ideology and she agrees with Clinton’s policies on freedom of expression. Then there were only two students who chose a third party candidate. Both students chose Gary Johnson and said they know the most about him from the internet and social media. However neither students knew much about him, they just said he was better than Trump and Hillary. Going back to the beginning when I had started surveying people, it was clear that people believed that both options were bad and they ‘gave up’, in a way, about who will become the next president. However, even though a third party candidate might not have as big of a chance of winning, they’re still an option to vote for if you feel like Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton would not be the best option for America. What I was able to draw from surveying the high school students was that I believe they should be better educated on the election.

Lasly I visited a Shaker Junior High School social studies classroom and had the whole class of twenty-four respond to a few questions on who they would vote for, where they learned about the candidate, and what they agree with that the person says they will do. This age group was the group I was most surprised with. I was not expecting  a group of twelve year olds to know a lot about the election. However, they knew the most by far. No matter who the student voted for, they all had reasons to support their choice and examples that were strong. For example, a student that voted for Donald Trump said “I found most of the information on Donald Trump on social media. I wanted Trump because people may disagree with his ideas, but at least he is honest enough. In my opinion, Hillary and her emails make her fake and ruthless. I know Trump wants to ban Muslims, but he has a good reason. Fifty two percent of ISIS are Muslims, and also he is only trying to help us.” Another student who chose Hillary Clinton said “I found out most about Hillary Clinton by social media. I do agree that wealthy people like Donald Trump should pay a lot for their children to go to college, and the non wealthy should pay less. Also I think Hillary is a better person than Donald Trump.” A big thing I noticed was the large number of third party candidates chosen. Out of the twenty-four kids, eleven chose a third party, then eleven chose Hillary, and only two chose Donald Trump. Also many of the reasonings and influences came from school, whether they said a  name or just “classwork.” It is very clear to see that out of all the grade levels, the junior high kids are learning the most about the election. Along with that, the teachers are being very biased. There was also a very low percentage of Trump supporters, and on a lot of papers from the kids there was something negative written about Trump, showing that teachers are strongly campaigning against him, and teaching the kids he is “bad”. On top of in class discussions, kids in junior high got copies of articles from the New York Times on the election, and then get questions that they answer after reading it. This is an example of how junior high kids are getting more exposure to the election and everything involved in it. I believe that this is a good thing and they should be doing it more in other grade levels because this will affect their lives and they should be aware of what is happening.