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Teens trust influencers over TV for news, despite accuracy problem

New data shows that social media and YouTube wield extraordinary influence on teens, especially in the thorny area of news. While this might seem problematic in the era of fake news, mainstream TV news isn’t doing much to distinguish itself either.

Half of teens turn to YouTube for news

It’s no secret that teens turn to YouTube more often than regular television. As well, teens trust user-generated content more than established brands. Now, teens are putting more trust in user-generated content than traditional news sources.

According to a study done by Common Sense and Survey Monkey, half of teens say they prefer to get news from influencers over traditional news organizations. 50% surveyed say they get their news from YouTube, while 54% said they get their news from other hubs like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


What’s more, for 29% of teens, social media is the place they get news every day. YouTube is the daily news destination for 23%, the same number that head to news aggregator sites. Only 13% get their news from television each day.

Of the teens that turn to YouTube for news several times a week, 60% said that they are more likely to seek out news content delivered by influencers. Though most traditional news organizations have active social media and YouTube presences, only 28% preferred them over influencers. Jon Cohen, SurveyMonkey’s chief research officer, sounded a note of alarm at the results:

“While it’s notable that teens rely heavily on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube to stay informed, their reliance on news from celebrities and influencers rather than journalists may have pernicious implications.”

At the same time as teens are happy to get their news from influencers, they are aware there is a reliability problem. 61% of teens think that influencer news stories are often inaccurate. Only 28% think the same of traditional news organizations.

TV news sources have trust issues

Though it is worrying that most teens turn to influencers over journalists, are traditional news sources more trustworthy? Americans believe that 62% of all news they see on TV is biased, compared to 80% on social media.

Leading news channels such as CNN may be fueling the lack of faith in news media. Politifact checked the truthfulness of facts heard on the TV channel. It found that 44% of the statements were between half-true and absolutely false. So, although Influencers may not be the best places to turn for news, traditional news sources aren’t much better. Fake news is everywhere.

Why it matters

Teens far prefer social media and YouTube for news over traditional news sources.

They also prefer to get news from influencers, even though they recognize that most influencer news reports are inaccurate.

Teens will only see marginally more accuracy from TV news.


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