More than half of teens—54 percent—get news at least a few times a week from social media platforms and 50 percent get news from YouTube, per a new study. Despite their reliance on influencers and video recommendations, many admit to being more confused after viewing.
It can be tough these days, even for adults, to separate fact from opinion and spam on the internet. Exploring this idea, Common Sense Media, a non-profit that teaches digital literacy and provides product reviews, used SurveyMonkey to ask how US teens consume their news.
Forty-one percent of teens surveyed indicated that they keep up on current events through news organizations in print or online at least a few times a week. TV is less popular as a news source, at just 37 percent. Of teens who obtain information from news organizations, 65 percent say it helps them better understand what is going on.
While more teens consume news through social media, just about half—53 percent—say it helps them better understand what is going on, while 19 percent say it has made them “more confused” about current events.
As the new generation prepares to vote in the 2020 US presidential election, it becomes more vital for consumers to tell real news versus propaganda and opinion, says CommonSense. Of those age 16 and 17 who say they’ll be eligible to vote in the 2020 election, 85 percent were “likely” to cast a ballot, with 61 percent saying “very likely.”
“These findings raise concerns about what kind of news the next generation is using to shape their decisions,” said James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense in a release. “There are few standards for what constitutes news and how accurately it’s portrayed on the platforms teens use. With the 2020 election coming up, we need to make sure teens are getting their news from reliable sources, thinking critically, and making informed decisions.”
As the name suggests, “influencers” play a large role in how teenagers perceive current events. Sixty percent of teens who get news from YouTube say they are more likely to get it from celebrities, influencers and personalities, compared to 39 percent from news organizations. This is especially true among daily YouTube users, at 71 percent.
Algorithms play a major role, as well—a concern discussed at length on Capital Hill on more than one occasion. Among teens who find news on YouTube, half of them told SurveyMonkey that it was recommended as a “Watch Next” or video in the sidebar.
This SurveyMonkey Audience survey was conducted on June 14 to 25 among 1,005 teenagers age 13 to 17 in the United States.