Teens increasingly rely on social media for news

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This week, a BBC report was probably not seen by so many younger ‘eyeballs’ – which is to be expected as the outlet cited new research from Ofcom which found most teenagers are turning away from traditional media and are instead now getting most of their news from social media.

While print, television and radio remain the main sources of information for older age groups, Instagram is now the most popular source of information among young people. TikTok and YouTube follow closely behind.

According to the study, teens increasingly prefer to stay informed by “scrolling through their social feeds,” Yih-Chung Teh, Ofcom’s group director for strategy and research, said in a statement, adding: “And while young people find news on social media to be less reliable, they value these services more for providing a range of opinions on the hot topics of the day.”

The first true generation of social media

While this trend may seem somewhat glaring to some, it’s worth remembering that baby boomers were really the first generation to grow up with television, which has largely supplanted radio and newspapers as their primary source of information.

“Given that people born between 2005 and 2010 have never known a world without social media and its dominance of modern culture, it’s no surprise to learn that many are now shunning traditional media for social media feeds. However, it raises concerns because how news shared on timelines, homepages and for your pages is a credible source of information relating to the whole world,” said Sam O’ Brien, marketing director of the Affise partnership marketing platform.

“While some social media will of course credit trusted news sites for their information, many might share unreliable, misleading and inaccurate sources, which can lead a young, impressionable audience to take in distorted or distorted stories and news. even fictitious as fact,” O’Brien explained via email. “The study also highlighted that the biggest source of information for teens is not just Instagram and social media platforms, but their families (65%), and parents likely don’t count yet. on TikTok, which means teens will continue to consume news from their traditional mom and dad outlets.”

O’Brien further noted that some real news shared by mainstream media came from platforms such as TikTok or Youtube, demonstrating the need for mainstream media to keep up with social platforms and stay relevant to issues. important for younger children. audiences when trying to gain their interest.

“Teens are part of the digital first generation who grew up with social media channels readily available and easily accessible wherever they are 24 hours a day, viewing them as just another channel for content,” said Sarah Penny, director content and research at Influencer Intelligence. .

“This naturalization of social media among younger demographics means they have a high degree of trust in channels and channels have also grown to respond to this shift in usage, providing informative and educational content to this audience as well as entertainment and inspiration,” she added. “In comparison, older demographics have grown up in an environment with no social media or more restricted access, and may have less confidence in these channels. Instead, they more readily turn to more traditional news outlets. to obtain their information, including newspapers, television and radio.

Don’t trust social media

It’s also worth noting that while teens and young audiences consume their news on social media, around 30% agree that it’s less trustworthy than traditional media, but still rate the services more highly. due to platforms that broadcast a range of opinions. on the most current stories.

“It highlights how mainstream media can use information shared on social media in their own news programs to win back readership from younger audiences,” O’Brien said.

“Most often, social influencers popular with 11-16 year olds are of a similar – if not slightly older – age range to their biggest fans, so it’s understandable that these younger audiences are more inclined to believe and trust the opinions and sources shared by those they consider like-minded peers,” he noted. “Social influencers who have large followings among this age bracket are in the privileged position to be able to educate and share information with their young, impressionable – and often vulnerable – audiences, who are therefore responsible for the types of messages and sources of information they choose to share. on their own platforms should be at the forefront of their minds before clicking share.”

What Influence?

The role of the social media influencer also changes the dynamic.

“We’ve seen this generational divide exemplified by influencer relationships and perceptions among different consumers, with younger generations in particular showing strong levels of trust in them, connecting on a personal level with their favorite creators and leaning on so naturally on them not just for recommendations but also for information,” Penny said.

“While trust in social media as a medium has understandably been impacted by concerns about misinformation across the generational divide, social media nonetheless has the power to democratize opinion, allowing users to have their say. to be said and to be heard,” Penny continued. “At the same time, eroding trust in politics is harming trust in mainstream news outlets by fostering growing tribalism, creating prejudice and reinforcing skepticism. This could further accelerate the growth in the number of consumers who trust social media as a means of information”.

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