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TikTok Is Top Single Source of News for Teenagers, Ofcom Finds

Teenagers in the UK turn to TikTok as the most used single source of news, new Ofcom research has found.

The communications regulator reported that 28 percent of the surveyed teens chose TikTok as their favourite news source, followed by YouTube (25 percent) and Instagram (25 percent).

One in ten teens choose TikTok as their most important news source, over any other individual source. However, the BBC still has the highest reach of any news organisation among teens, taking into account all news content across its platforms.

Teens aged 12-15 are most interested in sports and sports personalities, music news and singers and celebrities or famous people. Next are topics such as “serious things going on in the UK” and news about animals and the environment.

Ofcom’s News Consumption in the UK 2022/2023 report (pdf) analysed news consumption by different age groups.

Overall, teens and young adults aged 16-24 consume news in a different way than the older generation. They are more likely to check their phones or other digital devices to access news.

Compared to 39 percent of adults, 63 percent of young adults use social media on their phones to access news.

While average adults still prefer traditional media sources, such as television, radio and print newspapers, they also choose social media for various types of news.

TikTok and Instagram are very popular among adults, looking to learn the latest celebrity news. Those who want to read about breaking and political news scroll through their Twitter feed. Facebook remains the top source for local news in the adult group.

Teens said that the most common reason for their disinterest in news is that it’s “too boring,” “not relevant for my age” and “too upsetting.”

The 12-15-year-olds said they would commonly learn about world events from family. Television, talking to friends and social media were the most commonly cited sources of news consumption.

The growing popularity of TikTok as a news source for the nation’s youth comes amid a ban on the app for those serving in parliament.

In March, MPs and civil servants were told they can no longer have the Chinese social media app on their government devices.

The government data is sensitive and cannot be entrusted to social media apps that collect and store huge amounts of information, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden told the MPs.

Some lawmakers suggested that TikTok should be also banned on private devices, owned by parliament workers, but Mr. Dowden dismissed the idea, opting for a “balanced” approach.

The government’s decision on TikTok comes following a total ban on the app in the United States, unless the company’s Beijing-based parent ByteDance sells its stake.

The public is highly concerned with misinformation spread on social networks and with the work of their algorithms, according to a study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, published in June. Yet, TikTok and other media platforms are on the rise, according to the report.

The shift from traditional social networks, such as Facebook, to TikTok is affected by the habits of the youngest generations, the institute said.

Young people “have grown up with social media and nowadays often pay more attention to influencers or celebrities than they do to journalists, even when it comes to news.”

The Ofcom report also revealed that one in ten young adults said they don’t read or watch any news at all. Five percent of the adult groups claimed the same thing.

Young adults would follow the news when they are bored while commuting or travelling.

They would be less likely than adults to know about the national or local developments in the country.

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