The level of trust that young Americans between 18- and 29- years old have in most American institutions continues to fall at an alarming rate.
The latest Youth Poll of the Harvard Public Opinion Project finds that in the last 12 months, trust in the President has decreased from 39 percent to 32 percent, the U.S. military has decreased from 54 percent to 47 percent (the ﬁrst time below a majority) and the Supreme Court from 40 to 36 percent.
The growing lack of trust in the President comes from Democrats (64% trusted the President to do the right thing all or most of the time in 2013, today the number is 53%) and Independents (31% in 2013, 23% today) — and not from Republicans whose opinion has not changed in the last year. Thirteen percent (13%) of Republicans trust the President to do the right thing all or most of the time. These ﬁndings stand in contrast to the U.S. Military; over the last year, the military has lost trust across all parties (Democrats are down 6 points to 44%, Republicans 5 points to 63% and Independents down 8 points to 40%).
There are somewhat depressing attitudes among the young to many aspects of the political process too. For example,since 2010, there has been a consistent six-point increase in those who agree with the statement that“elected ofﬁcials seem to be motivated by selﬁsh reasons,” more than three-in-ﬁve (62%) now agree with this; and a similar six-point increase with agreement that “political involvement rarely has any tangible results” (23% in 2010, 29% in 2014).We also have tracked a seven-point increase in the number who agree with the statement, “elected ofﬁcials don’t seem to have the same priorities I have” (51% in 2010, 58% in 2014).
There is perhaps a clue to where the young are being influenced in their attitudes by the Harvard Study’s findings about the growing use of most social networking platforms and communications tools.
Since a previous poll was taken in the fall of 2013, the percentage of 18- to 29- year olds who have a:
Facebook account grew from 79 percent to 84 percent;
Google+ account growth expanded from 37 percent to 44 percent;
Twitter growth increased from 35 percent to 40 percent;
Instagram from 30 percent to 36 percent;
Pinterest from 25 percent to 33 percent;
Snapchat from 16 percent to 23 percent; and
Tumblr from 10 percent to 14 percent.
With slightly more than three-in-ﬁve (61%) students in graduate school having a Google+ account, use among this cohort is signiﬁcantly higher than students in high school (40%), college (41%), or those who are not in college and never attended (41%). Google+ is also more popular among young Blacks(54%) than young Whites under 30 years old.Facebook (87%), Twitter (47%), Instagram (45%), Pinterest (37%), Snapchat (34%) and Tumblr (19%) areall more popular among college students than among young Americans who are not in, or never haveattended, college.
When we asked the open-ended question, “What is the one website, social network, or app that youcould not live without?” we found that while Facebook was the overall winner by a signiﬁcant margin (24% compared to 7% for the second most mentioned site, Google), there were signiﬁcant differences based on what level of education one was enrolled in.