Teens in the Gen Z cohort (those aged 14–19) consume more news than their Gen Z adult counterparts (those aged 20–25),1 according to our Digital media trends survey.2 Roughly eight in 10 (78%) Gen Z teens get news or current events daily from at least one source, compared with 69% of Gen Z adults and 84% of consumers across all generations.
Gen Z teens favor social and digital news formats, with about half of this group saying they get news daily from social media feeds or messaging services and 40% getting news daily from search engines (see figure). These sources can offer more immediate, interactive, and engaging news experiences than traditional sources, like TV news or newspapers.
Gen Zs’ engagement with news aligns with research showing young people are concerned about a range of pressing societal issues, including climate change, unemployment, and health care. Additionally, the terms “news” and “current events” may be more broadly defined for these digital natives who have no memory of a world without smartphones or the internet. News content for this cohort could encompass entertainment, sports, or social justice news (in addition to strictly political news) and reach beyond “traditional” news sources to include formats like smartphone notifications.
Indeed, mobile devices enable this engagement and serve as a gateway to news and information for young people: 66%of Gen Z teens who follow news or current events say most of the news they consume is from alerts and notifications on their mobile devices, compared with a slightly smaller share of Gen Z adults. More than half of the Gen Z news consumers (teens and adults) say they consume news on their smartphones exclusively.
Young people are also leveraging user-generated content formats and visual- and video-focused social media platforms to follow and connect with like-minded content creators, who are often sharing news and information about issues they care about.3 Acknowledging how influential these platforms and creators can be for flows of information, the White House held a briefing in March for top social media content creators on the crisis in Ukraine to provide them with factual and timely information to share with their audiences.4 These platforms, and the creators who fuel them, are major hubs for news and information for millions globally.
Still, about 40% of Gen Z teens watch TV news every day and the average teen consults two different news sources daily. While Gen Z consumers overall are less likely to prefer watching TV in general, some teens may be living at home with Millennial or Gen X parents, who are more likely to have a pay TV subscription and whose news habits influence them. Conversely, Gen Z adults—who are more likely to be in college, working, and living alone, and also less likely to have a pay TV subscription—average one news source daily.
Despite these nuances, Gen Z is highly connected and digitally savvy. The news consumption behaviors of this young cohort present both opportunities and challenges for news organizations and digital platforms alike.
Recommendations for TMT leaders
- News organizations should do more to involve and engage younger audiences in news processes, especially on interactive platforms like social media sites, news websites, and digital aggregators. Building loyalty with this cohort now is likely to have a positive impact in the future.
- Social media platforms should engage Gen Z news consumers in their ongoing fact-checking efforts. Young people are already highly engaged on these sites and a majority of Gen Zs consider “fake news” to be a big problem, signaling they may be motivated to get involved.
- Investments in solutions journalism and purpose-driven reporting can pay off with the younger generation, as many are deeply concerned about issues like climate change, racial injustice, and health care.