Teens are turning to Instagram and TikTok for news, Ofcom report finds

·2-min read
Teens are turning to social media for news (Getty Images)
Teens are turning to social media for news (Getty Images)

Teenagers in the UK favour social media for keeping up with the news over traditional media outlets, a new report from Ofcom has found.

Instagram is used by 29 per cent of teenagers aged between 12 and 15, making it the most popular news source for this age group. It’s closely followed by TikTok and YouTube, which are used by 28 per cent of young people.

TikTok saw the largest overall increase in use as a news source in the last two years, from 0.8 million UK adults in 2020 to 3.9 million adults in 2022 – an increase of six per cent. It is now as popular as the Sky News website and app.

The regulator’s News Consumption in the UK 2021/22 report found that BBC One and BBC Two – historically the most popular news sources among teens – have been knocked to fifth place, ranking behind Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and ITV.

Around 24 per cent of teenagers use BBC channels for news in 2022, a significant decline from the 45 per cent recorded just five years ago.

BBC One is the most popular source of news among adults (Ofcom)
BBC One is the most popular source of news among adults (Ofcom)

According to the findings, half of TikTok’s userbase for news are aged between 16 and 24.

Those who use the platform in this way say they get more of their news from “other people they follow” rather than news organisations.

However, trust in social media news sources varies. Half of YouTube and Twitter users think the platforms provide trustworthy news stories, but fewer than a third of teenagers (30 per cent) trust TikTok’s news content.

“Teenagers today are increasingly unlikely to pick up a newspaper or tune into TV News, instead preferring to keep up-to-date by scrolling through their social feeds,” Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s group director for strategy and research commented.

“And while youngsters find news on social media to be less reliable, they rate these services more highly for serving up a range of opinions on the day’s topical stories.”

Despite the increase in use of social media among the younger generation, BBC One remains the most used online news source among adults.

TV is still the go-to news source overall for adults, with 71 per cent of people voting it the most “reliable” news source. Social media was voted the least reliable source.

The report also surveyed people on the most trusted newsoutlets. CNN ranked top and is trusted by 83 per cent of respondents.

Sky News (75 per cent) and the BBC (73 per cent) came in second and third.

This is followed by ITV (70 per cent), Channel 4 (66 per cent) and Channel 5 (59 per cent).

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