Young people are turning away from social media as their main source of news: DNR

Young Australians are increasingly turning to traditional forms of news and away from social media, according to the Digital News Report: Australia 2022 released by the University of Canberra’s News and Media Research Centre today.

The report found that while social media remains Gen Z’s main source of news (46%), social media as a source for news has decreased by eight percentage points compared to the 2021 report.

Alongside this decrease, the report also found the use of TV and online news as the main sources of news had increased, four and five percentage points respectively.

Lead author of the report Professor Sora Park, says, “Rather than waiting for ‘news to find me’ on social media, we are seeing younger generations actively seeking news directly on traditional news platforms.

“This may be related to their high experience of misinformation, as our report found Gen Z was most likely to encounter misinformation about Covid-19 than any other age group.” 

Despite these findings, this year’s report paints a picture of fatigued news audiences, especially for younger respondents, with over three quarters (76%) of those under the age of 35 stating they avoid news.

The most common reason reported was the amount of political and coronavirus news (53 %) and the negative impact it has on their mood.

Dr Park says, “Too much newsroom attention is going toward topics like politics and coronavirus and is pushing young people away from news all together. Young people have broader desire for diverse news, agendas and voices.

“They believe news organisations should take a stand on issues like climate change and that journalists should be free to express their personal views on social media. And perhaps traditional media are not keeping up with the generational changes.”

Other key findings include:

  • News consumption increased for both Gen Z and Gen Y on last year, five and six percentage points respectively
  • The use of TikTok has doubled since 2020 (to 15 per cent) and one-third of users say they use it to get news.
  • Gen Z is most likely to encounter misinformation about Covid-19; more than half (51 per cent) encountered Covid-19 misinformation online.
  • There was a considerable decrease in the use of YouTube for news among Gen Z from 35 per cent in 2021 to 26 per cent in 2022.
  • 28 per cent of Gen Y pay for news, up 12 per cent.
  • Younger generations were more in favour of journalists expressing their views, with more than half of Gen Z (54 per cent) and 43 per cent of Gen Y saying personal views were fine on social media, compared to only 24 per cent of Baby Boomers.