Politics of Parents
By: Spencer Koonce
It has long been believed that children adopt their parents’ political ideologies. The assumption has been that children are products of their family environment when forming their political opinions. Kids have largely been assumed to develop beliefs that align with their parents and that the household was the largest factor in political identification.
Today, however, the political views of parents are transmitted to their children less and less often. This is a result of the increased exposure to new available ideas that shape people’s views. With the expansion of social media and increasing involvement of youth in activism in today's political climate, children are arriving at their own political views.
The American Sociological Association recently reported that less than half of people today prescribe to their parents’ political perspectives. This is a large change form the antiquated trend of children adopting their parents’ beliefs. The introduction of new and readily available influences on this generation's beliefs is an important factor in the recent sway in political views.
Novato High senior Dante Lacuadra discussed this topic.
“My dad’s political views are, you know, pretty different than mine are. We share like certain aspects that are the same but he is kind of like a conspiracy theorist. Thats not me,” said Lacuadra.
Timothy Chyrklund, a Novato High senior, said that he doesn’t agree with all of his parents’ views.
“I think that has something to do with where I grew up compared to where they grew up. We definitely differ on other things,” said Chyrklund.
Chyrklund also mentioned that the largest influence on his political ideas are “philosophical readings” that “directs how I think.”
“Political influences also come from what one values and the people that you put yourself around,” said senior Maddie McElroy.
McElroy added that her parents “are more conservative in their views and I am a strong liberal” and that “I once had the same views but no longer do.”
The youth of today are increasingly pursuing their own beliefs rather than blindly following the values of their parents. Children's values, beliefs, and views are largely a product of their environment but with the growth of social media and the Internet, this environment has expanded outside of the household greatly. The expansion of mass media gives exposure to more issues and different viewpoints that influence the opinions of the youth. People are now exposed to more information, which is a critical factor in political identification.
A recent study from the American Sociological Association supports this assertion by stating, “With few exceptions, exposure to political persons and events is experienced through the media, whether it is news on the Internet or television shows depicting political happenings.”
The study also reported that, “The Internet and its unlimited forms of social media allow for personalized exposure to information and permit people to self select into their preferred forum for every type and view of any political or social topic.”
Media has a clear impact on the development of people’s attitudes, but as it becomes more prevalent, it can also become a danger. It is well known that social media contains misinformation and radical perspectives. This could influence the development of children’s political views and engrain them with false information. The immersion of media as a primary influence in the development of political thought can been seen as constructive in giving people a resource to develop their own thoughts. However, it can also transmit falsified information to those who are most receptive to new ideas.
Additionally, a study from the British Journal of Political Science, as reported in The Atlantic, claims that, “parents who are insistent that their children adopt their political views inadvertently influence their children to abandon the belief once they become adults.”
The household and family still share a role in the development of political thought but this has been mitigated by the independence provided by the Internet and mass media. Whether people identify with their parents politics or not, the ability to have more influences and information available is critical to developing one's own perspectives and opinions.
This phenomena can be seen as largely beneficial, with people coming to their own ideas rather than defaulting to identify with their parents’ beliefs. The impact of this generation diverging from the views of their parents will likely change the demographics of America and the future of political affiliations.
As more of our generation begins to become of voting age, the change in beliefs and political attitudes will be reflected in governmental changes and throughout society. The increasing ability for people to come to their own conclusion allows for more independent thought and people being more autonomous with their opinions.