Study: Youths who rely on social media for news less knowledgeable about current affairs

A study has found that the internet is by far the most dominant media that young people turn to for news. ― TODAY file pic
A study has found that the internet is by far the most dominant media that young people turn to for news. ― TODAY file pic

SINGAPORE, Jan 16 ― Youths who get their news from news websites and mobile applications are more knowledgeable about current affairs than those who rely on social media, a new study has found.

The study, by students from Singapore Polytechnic's diploma in media and communication course, polled 802 people aged between 15 and 35 on their news consumption habits. They also quizzed the participants on international and Singapore news, with topics ranging from politics to entertainment.

The average score was:

― 54.2 per cent among those who mainly use news apps (such as the official apps for TODAY and The Straits Times)

― 52.6 per cent among those who used other sources, including blogs (such as TheSmartLocal and Mothership) and news aggregators (such as Reddit and Google News)

― 52.2 per cent among readers of news websites (such as TODAY and The Straits Times)

― 47.6 per cent among those who relied on social media.

The internet is by far the most dominant media that young people turn to for news, the study found. When asked for their most preferred source of news:

― 87.3 per cent answered that it was the internet, including news sites and social media

― 4.6 per cent preferred television

― 3.9 per cent favoured newspapers

― 3.4 per cent chose radio.

When asked why they preferred certain sources over others, the most common reasons given were:

It is the most accessible — 93.6 per cent

It is free — 67.4 per cent

It offers information or perspectives unavailable on other sources — 22.7 per cent

When it came to news types, the young were most interested in:

Breaking news — 78.8 per cent

Entertainment and celebrity updates — 48.4 per cent

Lifestyle topics such as the arts, travel and food — 47.5 per cent

One of five students who spearheaded the study, second-year student Sammi Poo, commented that while social media has a large reach and helps users stay informed of current affairs indirectly, it is not the most reliable source of information.

“The connectivity makes it easier for users like me to stumble upon news shared by friends. But if it is not from actual news outlets, it may not be the most accurate,” the 18-year-old said. ― TODAY

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