Teens turning to TikTok and Instagram for news, Ofcom says

More teenagers are turning away from traditional media outlets and getting their news from social media, new research from Ofcom has shown.

The number of people consuming news content on TikTok has increased from 800,000 in 2020 to 3.9 million in 2022.

For the first time, Instagram is the most popular news source among younger people – used by 29% of teens in 2022 – with TikTok and YouTube close behind.

But print, TV and radio news outlets still dominate in older age groups.

The growth in news consumed via TikTok is being driven mainly by younger age groups – half of the users consuming news on the platform are aged 16-24.

The number of people consuming news via the video-sharing platform is now similar to the number using the Sky News website and app, Ofcom said.

TikTok users who took part in the study said they get more of their news from “other people they follow” (47%) than from news organisations’ own accounts (24%).

Increasingly, news stories also originate on the platform. Earlier this week, a video showing a student being harassed by a man on Cardiff street was watched more than two million times and picked up by news outlets.

And the recent high-profile libel case between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp dominated the video sharing platform, with many users watching the proceedings unfold live on YouTube before selecting clips to share with their followers on TikTok.

‘Increasingly unlikely’

Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s group director for strategy and research, said in a statement that teenagers nowadays are “increasingly unlikely to pick up a newspaper or tune in to TV news”, preferring to stay informed 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,” he added.

Despite its newfound popularity though, less than a third of young people (30%) asked in the study said they actually trusted the news content they found through TikTok.

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