The social networks Instagram and TikTok have become the preferred means for young British people to follow the news.

The social networks Instagram and TikTok, as well as the video platform YouTube represent the three main sources of information among teenagers in the United Kingdom, according to a study by the British media regulator published on Thursday 21 July. For the first time, Instagram (29%) leads the sources of information among 12-15 year olds, ahead of TikTok and YouTube, tied with 28%.

A “long-term decline”

Among those over 16, the level of generalist and news channels is now lower than that which prevailed before the pandemic, reflecting a “long-term decline” of traditional television.

“Teenagers are less and less likely to grab a newspaper or turn on the news on TV, preferring instead to stay up to date by browsing their social networks.”

“And if young people find information on social media less reliable, they prefer it because it offers a range of opinions on the hot topics of the day,” he continued.

While popular among young people, TikTok is only rated as reliable for news by 30% of them. Among adults, 71% of respondents consider television to be the most reliable media, and social networks the least reliable media (35% trust them). The use of the press, online and paper, at 38% among adults, is declining compared to 2020 (47%) and 2018 (51%).

Few followers of traditional media, the younger generations are no less keen on current events. But they do not inform themselves like their elders. They actually favor social networks like Facebook, Twitter and recently TikTok. The Chinese platform is now used by 7% of Britons to follow news. In comparison, only 1% took to TikTok for news in 2020.

Unsurprisingly, 16-24 year olds are the most likely to check out the latest “news” on TikTok. Born with digital technology, they do not use the same tools to inform themselves as their elders. “Teenagers today are less and less inclined to pick up a newspaper or watch TV news channels; they prefer to keep up to date by scrolling through their social media,” Yih-Choung Teh explained.

They also don’t have the same expectations of the media as previous generations. They favor video content, which is easier to share and comment on than written articles, and seek instant, daily access to the news. No wonder this young audience is turning to TikTok for information. If the application has become known for its viral dance challenges and “lip-syncing” (playback, in French), it now hosts many educational videos on the news of the moment.

Instagram, TikTok and YouTube top teen news sources

The social networks Instagram and TikTok, as well as the video platform YouTube represent the three main sources of information among teenagers in the United Kingdom, according to a study by the British media regulator published on Thursday. For the first time, Instagram (29%) leads the sources of information among 12-15 year olds, ahead of TikTok and YouTube, tied with 28%.

Decline of traditional sources

Among those over 16, the level of general interest and information channels is now lower than that which prevailed before the pandemic, reflecting a “long-term decline” of traditional television. “Teenagers are less and less likely to grab a newspaper or turn on the news on TV, preferring instead to stay up to date by browsing their social networks.”

TikTok deemed unreliable

“And if young people find information on social networks less reliable, they prefer it because it offers a range of opinions on the hot topics of the day,” he continued. While popular among young people, TikTok is only rated as reliable for news by 30% of them. Among adults, 71% of respondents consider television to be the most reliable media, and social networks the least reliable media (35% trust them). The use of the press, online and paper, at 38% among adults, is declining compared to 2020 (47%) and 2018 (51%).

Instagram, TikTok and YouTube are the 3 main sources of information among teenagers

Information consumption patterns are changing, to the delight of TikTok.

According to a report, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube are now the preferred mode of news consumption for British teenagers.

The winning trio

The UK media regulator. For the first time, Instagram becomes the most popular source of information for teenagers. It is used by 29% of them. TikTok and YouTube, used by 28% of teenagers to follow the news, obtain the other two places on the podium. For its part, Facebook’s popularity has fallen, from 34% in 2018 to 27% last year, and 22% today.

And the adults?

Among older age groups, TikTok is also having an effect. Between 2020 and 2022, the platform saw the largest increase in usage of any news source. In figures, in 2020, 0.8 million British adults said they used it to follow the news, compared to 3.9 million in 2022.

“Which marks the resumption of a long-term decline in viewing to traditional television news.” The report nevertheless recalls that, even in decline, television news remains, for the moment, the most reliable source of information for British adults.

Some nuances

Note that in the report, those who claim to follow the news on TikTok also claim to get about a quarter of their information from news organizations on the platform.

Another nuance, among the teenagers questioned, half of the users of YouTube and Twitter consider that these platforms provide trustworthy reports. Which is not the case with TikTok. Despite its popularity, only 30% of young people trust the platform’s content.