Ofcom’s News Consumption in the U.K. 2021/22 report reveals that for the first time, Instagram is the most popular news source among teenagers, used by 29%. TikTok and YouTube are close behind, used by 28% of teenagers to follow news.
BBC One and BBC Two — historically the most popular news sources among teens — have been knocked off top spot down to fifth place, below the ITV news cluster. Some 24% of teens 24% use these channels for news in 2022, compared to 45% five years ago.
The proportion of teenagers using Instagram’s sister brand Facebook for news has decreased to 22% from 27% last year, and from 34% in 2018.
BBC One fared much better amongst adults, remaining the most used news source. However, news viewing on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC News channel, ITV and Sky News is now below pre-pandemic levels, resuming a longer-term decline in traditional TV news viewing.
Conversely, TikTok has seen the largest increase in use of any news source between 2020 and 2022 — from 0.8 million U.K. adults in 2020 (1%), increasing to 3.9 million U.K. adults in 2022 (7%) bringing it on par with Sky News’ website and app. TikTok’s growth is primarily driven by younger age groups, with half of its news users aged 16 to 24. Users of TikTok for news say that they get more of their news on TikTok from “other people they follow” (44%) than “news organizations” (24%). There is a caveat here — people who use TikTok for news claim to get around a quarter of it from news organizations on the platform. This could include content from broadcasters they follow such as BBC, ITV and Sky News, all of whom have TikTok news channels.
The report also finds that TV news remains the most trusted news source among UK adults (71%), with news on social media considered the least reliable (35%). CNN (83%) and Sky News (75%) are highly trusted, while the public service broadcasters — BBC (73%), ITV (70%), Channel 4 (66%) and Channel 5 (59%) — also enjoy a high degree of trust. Some 67% of newcomer GB News’s viewers trust its news reporting.
Among teens, half of YouTube and Twitter users think they provide trustworthy news stories (51% and 52% respectively). Despite its popularity for news, fewer than a third of youngsters (30%) trust TikTok’s news content.
The combined use of print and online newspapers among adults is 38% in 2022, a significant decrease from 2020 (47%) and 2018 (51%), the report reveals. This is being driven by the steady decline of print newspaper reach in recent years, with the trend seen pre-pandemic appearing to accelerate. Less than a quarter (24%) of U.K. adults use print newspapers for news in 2022, compared with more than a third (35%) in 2020, and two in five (40%) in 2018. Use of newspapers among teenagers fell from 19% to 13% in the last five years.
Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s group director for strategy and research, said: “Teenagers today are increasingly unlikely to pick up a newspaper or tune into TV news, instead preferring to keep up-to-date by scrolling through their social feeds. And while youngsters find news on social media to be less reliable, they rate these services more highly for serving up a range of opinions on the day’s topical stories.”