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.
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TikTok is fastest growing news source for UK adults, Ofcom finds
Watch out Huw Edwards, the TikTokers are coming. The social video platform is the fastest growing news source for UK adults, according to a survey, but nearly half of people using it for current affairs turn to fellow TikTokers rather than conventional news organisations for their updates.
TikTok is used by 7% of adults for news, according to the UK’s communications watchdog, up from 1% in 2020. The growth is primarily driven by young users, with half of its news followers aged 16 to 24.
Instagram, TikTok and YouTube teenagers’ top three news sources [news release]
Teenagers in the UK are turning away from traditional news channels and are instead looking to Instagram, TikTok and YouTube to keep up to date, Ofcom has found.
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 used by nearly three in ten in 2022 (29%). TikTok and YouTube follow closely behind, used by 28% of youngsters 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. Around a quarter of teens (24%) use these channels for news in 2022, compared to nearly half (45%) just five years ago.1
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 2022.2 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%).3 This brings it onto a par with Sky News’ website and app.
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 the platform from ‘other people they follow’ (44%) than ‘news organisations’ (24%).4
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.Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s Group Director for Strategy and Research
TV news remains trusted
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 Channel 5 (59%). Sixty-seven per cent of newcomer GB News’s viewers trust its news reporting.
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.
Decline in print news appears to accelerate
The combined use of print and online newspapers among adults is 38% in 2022, a significant decrease from 2020 (47%) and 2018 (51%).
This is being driven by the substantial decrease of print newspaper reach in recent years, with the trend seen pre-pandemic appearing to accelerate, likely exacerbated by the pandemic. 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.
Notes to editors
- The proportion of teenagers using Facebook for news has also decreased to 22% from 27% last year, and from 34% in 2018.
- BARB data corroborates this trend
- We estimate that 0.8 million (+/-200,000) TikTok as a source of news in 2020 increasing to 3.9 million (+/-700,000) in 2022 based on data from the adults News Consumption Survey (7% of adults aged 16+ claimed to use TikTok for news in 2022 up from 1% in 2020). All generated population estimates are reported to the nearest 100,000 and use the latest ONS population estimates.
- People who use TikTok for news claim to get around a quarter of it from news organisations on the platform. This likely includes content from broadcasters they follow such as BBC, ITV and Sky News, which have all launched TikTok channels for news.