American teens and adults differ on a key issue tied to online speech and its consequences. whether a welcoming and safe environment online is more important than people being able to freely speak their minds. A majority of teens ages 13 to 17, 62%, say a welcoming and safe environment is more important, while 38% favor people being able to speak freely online, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. A separate survey of Americans 18 and older shows that adults’ are more evenly divided, with about half agreeing with either view.
Younger adults, those ages 18 to 29, differ from teens on this question. 57% favor people being able to freely speak their minds online, while 42% favor a welcoming and safe environment. Those 65 and older are the only age group whose views are similar to teens’, with a similar share of both groups favoring a welcome and safe online environment.
In both surveys, Americans’ views on these topics break sharply along partisan lines. But regardless of political affiliation, teens are more likely than adults with similar partisan leanings to say allowing for safe spaces online is more important than being able to speak freely. Views also vary by race, ethnicity, and gender.