School & District Management

Teens More Likely to Turn to YouTube for Current Events Than a News Organization, Survey Finds

By Alyson Klein — August 14, 2019 1 min read
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It’s not a surprise that teenagers are more likely to turn to online sources for news than they are to, say, an old-fashioned newspaper.

But it turns out teenagers are also likely to avoid professional news altogether, and look to YouTube or other online influencers for information about current events, a survey released Tuesday by Common Sense Media found.

Nearly 80 percent of teenagers say it’s important to keep up with current events, according the survey. But they are much more likely to turn to social media—say, Facebook or Twitter—than to head over to a news website. More than half of teens—54 percent—get their news from social media, and 50 percent get news from YouTube at least a few times a week.

Less than half—41 percent—get their news from a print or online newspaper at least three times a week. And only 37 percent turn to TV news at least a few times a week.

What’s more, 60 percent of teens who get their news from YouTube say they are likely to get it from celebrities, personalities, and influencers, as opposed to just under 40 percent, who get it from news organizations.

And a majority of teens—64 percent—say that “seeing pictures and video” of a news event helps them get a better understanding of what happened. Just 36 percent say they’d rather read about it.

“It’s a bit of paradox,” said Jon Cohen, the chief researcher at SurveyMonkey, which conducted the research, in a statement. “Overwhelmingly, teens say they are interested in keeping up with the news, but they’re not seeking out traditional or new media to do so.”

When teens do get their news from a news organization, they are more likely to find it helpful. Of the teens who get news from current news organizations, 65 percent said it gave them a better understanding of current events. But just 53 percent of teens who get their news from social media say it gives them a clearer picture of what’s going on. And 19 percent said it makes them more confused about the news of the day.

The survey was conducted by SurveyMonkey from June 14 to June 25, among 1,005 teenagers age 13 to 17 in the United States.

The survey comes as Common Sense has revamped its digital curriculum to put more focus on cyber bullying, hate speech, news and media literacy, and more. There’s also a new emphasis on developing healthy digital habits and skills. More on Common Sense’s curriculum can be found here.

Image: Getty

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.