Younger adults prefer reading the news

Younger people are more likely to prefer to read news rather than watching or listening to it, according to a new study

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It’s become a truism that younger people, fully immersed in their social media feeds, tend to prefer video content over the written word. But when it comes to the news, a new study released last week suggests the opposite might be the case – younger adults are more likely than older people to prefer to read news content, rather than watch it or listening to it. Not surprisingly, most of that reading takes place on the web.

The study, from Pew Research Centre, focused on news consumers in the USA and found that pereferences for news content consumption varies markedly by age. The over 50s are far more likely to prefer watching news – over 50% of this group would rather watch the news, while less than 30% prefer to read it.

It’s a different picture for the under 50s. For this younger group, over 40% prefer to read news, compared to over 30% with a preference for viewing.

The study found that 80% of under 30s who prefer to read their news, also prefer to get it online – jut 10% opted for a printed newspaper. The over 50s group of news readers are more evenly split between print and online, while 63% of those over 65 mostly still read a print paper.

In the UK, a small scale qualitative study from Ofcom entitled ‘ Media Lives’ , reports a very diverse pattern of news consumption, and a similar preference among older participants for getting news from the main TV bulletins – while other participants see this as archaic. Also, according to the Ofcom study, younger participants increasingly report that they use YouTube to watch documentaries and other factual content – driven in part by recommendations from schools and colleges.

Ofcom also found that while specific stories such as the migrant crisis appears to have driven stronger interest in news content among younger people, these stories have also raised concerns among a group Ofcom terms ‘news avoiders’ who seek to limit their exposure to upsetting or dull news stories.

More information

Pew Research: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/06/younger-adults-more-likely-than-their-elders-to-prefer-reading-news/

Ofcom: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0028/69256/media_lives_2015_summary.pdf