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For Kids, Social Is a Key Source for News

Nearly four in 10 get news from social networks

March 10, 2017

Social networks are a top source of news for children and teens, on a par with TV and their teachers.

A January 2017 study from Common Sense Media looked at the role social media plays in news consumption among children and teens ages 10 to 18. According to the study, next to getting news from family members, social networking sites are the most popular source for keeping up with what’s happening in the news. Just under four in 10 respondents said they use social media as a go-to for news.

Sources Used by US Children and Teens to Get News, Jan 2017 (% of respondents)

While social media may take a back seat to family as the most common news source for kids and teens, it is the preferred channel. Some 27% of 10- to 18-year-olds named social sites as their favorite news source, slightly higher than the 23% who named family.

For social media usage in general, YouTube is the most popular platform among children and teens, with about seven in 10 visiting it regularly, followed by Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Among those who use social networks to get news, Facebook is by far No. 1, with 76% of children and teen Facebook users getting news from the site.

For better or for worse, “fake news” has become a familiar phrase during and after the 2016 US presidential election, and the spread of false news stories on social media has raised concern about the accuracy of information found. This fact has not been lost on the youngest social media users. Common Sense Media found that among children who get news from social media sites, nearly seven in 10 said they pay “a lot” or “some” attention to the news sources they come across on social media.

While it’s comforting to know that most kids are aware they should be paying attention to where they get their information on social media, despite these efforts, less than half of 10- to 18-year-olds say that they can identify fake news stories from real ones, the study found.

—Alison McCarthy

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