• Young social news scrollers less likely to head to news websites direct
  • Celebrity, sports and music news dominates teens’ social media news diet
  • BBC One remains most-used news source overall among adults, but gradual decline continues
  • Reach of print newspapers is stable this year after long-term decline

Online news sources – particularly social media sites and apps – are the dominant means by which younger people in the UK access news, meaning their direct relationships with traditional news brands are weakening, Ofcom has found.

Ofcom’s News Consumption in the UK 2022/23 report reveals that older teens and young adults aged 16-24 are much more likely to consume news online than adults generally (83% vs 68%). And usually, it’s via social media on their mobile phones (63% vs 39%).

People in this age group are also much less likely than the average adult to access news content from traditional media sources, such as TV (47% vs 70%), radio (25% vs 40%) and print newspapers (16% vs 26%).

The study also finds that 16-24s reach online news in a different way to older generations. They’re much less likely than other adults to navigate straight to traditional news websites (9% vs 26%) and more commonly go via social media (37% vs 24%). This behaviour suggests youngsters have less of a direct connection with established news brands.

Social media platforms dominate the top five most popular news sources among 16-24s. Instagram (44%) is the most-used single news source, followed by Facebook 33%, Twitter 31%, and TikTok, 29%. Coming in joint second, BBC One (33%) is the only traditional media source to feature in their top five.

Among the youngest children in the study aged 12-15, TikTok is now the most used single source of news across all platforms (28%), followed by YouTube (25%) and Instagram (25%). However, taking into account all news content across its platforms, the BBC still has the highest reach of any news organisation among this age group (39%).

The news topics of most interest to younger teens generally are: ‘sports or sports personalities’ (23%), ‘music news or singers’ (15%), ‘celebrities or famous people’ (11%), ‘serious things going on in the UK’ (8%) and news about ‘animals or the environment’ (9%). Lighter news topics are of particular appeal across social media sites TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.