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Teens choose Insta, TikTok and YouTube for news

Social channels are winning viewers over television news readers

Teenagers are turning away from traditional broadcast news channels and are instead looking to Instagram, TikTok and YouTube to keep up to date, says the media regulator.

Ofcom’s News Consumption in the UK 2021/22 report shows that, for the first time, Instagram is the most popular news source among teenagers.

It is now used by nearly three in ten (29%) teenagers. TikTok and YouTube follow closely behind, used by 28% to follow news.  

BBC One and BBC Two – historically the most popular news sources among teens – have been knocked off top spot down to fifth place. About a quarter of teens (24%) use these channels for news in 2022, compared to nearly half (45%) just five years ago. 

BBC One remains the most used news source among all online adults, although it is one of several major TV news channels to reach fewer people in 2022.

News viewing to BBC One, BBC Two, BBC News channel, ITV and Sky News is now below pre-pandemic levels, resuming a longer-term decline in traditional TV news viewing. 

TikTok clocks up millions more news users  

Conversely, TikTok has seen the largest increase in use of any news source between 2020 and 2022 – from 0.8 million UK adults in 2020 (1%), increasing to 3.9 million UK adults in 2022 (7%). This brings it onto a par with Sky News’ website and app. The reach for TikTok among adults in Scotland is now at the same level as those reading The Scotsman newspapers in print and online.

TikTok’s growth is primarily driven by younger age groups, with half of its news users aged 16 to 24. Users of TikTok for news claim to get more of their news on TikTok from ‘other people they follow’ (44%) than ‘news organisations’ (24%).

TV news remains trusted 

Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s group director for strategy and research, said: “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. 

“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.” 

TV news remains the most trusted news source among UK adults (71%), with news on social media considered the least reliable (35%).

CNN (83%) and Sky News (75%) are highly trusted by their viewers for news, while the public service broadcasters are also trusted by the majority of their viewers – BBC (73%), ITV (70%), Channel 4 (66%) and GB News (67%) and Channel 5 (59%).

Among teens, half of YouTube and Twitter users think they provide trustworthy news stories (51% and 52% respectively). Despite its popularity for news, fewer than a third of youngsters (30%) trust TikTok’s news content.  The proportion using Facebook for news has also decreased to 22% from 27% last year, and from 34% in 2018. 

Decline in print news accelerates 

A substantial decrease of pre-pandemic print newspaper reach in recent years appears to be accelerating.

Less than a quarter (24%) of UK adults use print newspapers for news in 2022, compared with more than a third (35%) in 2020, and two in five (40%) in 2018.

Use of newspapers among teenagers fell from 19% to 13% in the last five years. 

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