Teens Hit Social Media for News
- By Dian Schaffhauser
While teens consider it important to follow current events, they prefer to get their news from social media rather than from news organizations. According to a new survey from Common Sense Media and SurveyMonkey, while three-quarters said it was very or somewhat important that they follow current events, more than half of teens (54 percent) go to sites such as Facebook and Twitter for their news. Exactly half get news from YouTube "at least a few times weekly" or every day. Just four in 10 (41 percent) go to print or online news sources as regularly, and even fewer (37 percent) watch news on TV at that pace.
For the news viewed on YouTube, half (50 percent) watched the news after having it recommended by the company itself, as a "watch next" or sidebar recommendation. Just a quarter of teens (27 percent) said they follow or subscribe to specific news channels on YouTube. Respondents who turn to YouTube for their news reported that they're more likely to get it from "celebrities, influencers and personalities" than news organizations (60 percent compared to 39 percent). For people who consume YouTube news daily, the difference was even higher (71 percent versus 28 percent).
The visual medium is what teens prefer these days for their news. Two-thirds (64 percent) said "seeing pictures and video showing what happened" helps them understand major news, while only 36 percent said they'd prefer to read or hear the facts instead.
However, traditional news outlets aren't necessarily down for the count. A solid 70 percent of respondents said that news reported by those news organizations "generally get the facts straight," while half as many (38 percent) said the same about news they hear through social media personalities, celebrities or influencers.
The survey was given in June 2019 and taken by 1,005 teenagers ages 13 to 17 in the United States. Respondents were selected from among people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day; and the data was weighted by age and gender to reflect the demographic composition of that age range for the United States.
The complete results are available with registration on the Common Sense Media site.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.