TikTok is The Leading News Source for Teenagers in the UK, Report Finds

Digital technology is reshaping the news consumption behaviours and at the forefront of this revolution is TikTok, the Chinese-owned video-sharing app as recent findings from the UK regulator Ofcom show that TikTok is the top source of news for teenagers in the UK.

In its report, “News Consumption in the UK 2022/23,” Ofcom reveals a striking shift in news consumption among teenagers. With 28% of British teenagers aged 12 to 15 getting their news from TikTok, this platform outstrips both YouTube and Instagram (each with a 25% share). But what is it that makes TikTok so appealing?

TikTok’s strength lies in its easy-to-digest video format, relatable content creators, and the way it employs algorithms to tailor content to individual tastes. The BBC still tops the list as the most used news source at 39%, but TikTok’s rise is a wake-up call for traditional news outlets.

Reliability, Trust, and Teenagers

While TikTok has an impressive following, the platform’s trust rating among its teen audience is just 32%, according to Ofcom’s report. In comparison, 82% of teenagers trust BBC One/Two. This indicates that teenagers are discerning when it comes to news sources, highlighting the need for trustworthy information on platforms popular with younger audiences.

The range of news interests among teenagers is broad. Top interests include sports and sports personalities, music news, celebrities, UK happenings, and environmental news. TikTok’s tailored feed could be catering to these diverse interests more effectively than traditional outlets.


The Digital Pivot

The success of TikTok as a news source has significant advances from being just a content sharing platform to being one of the leading search engines, competing with big search engine platforms. News publishers were initially reluctant to venture into TikTok. Yet, over the past year, the narrative has changed. Publishers have recognised the need to connect with TikTok’s predominantly young audience and counter misinformation on the platform.

Ofcom’s report also highlights changing news consumption habits among late teens/young adults aged 16-24. This demographic largely shuns traditional media sources. Social media platforms, with Instagram leading at 44%, are their main news sources. TikTok is hot on Instagram’s heels, used by 29% of young adults and outpacing BBC Radio 1 and Channel 5.

Despite the growing influence of social media, broadcast TV news continues to be the leading source of news among UK adults, with 70% usage. This increases to 75% when on-demand content is factored in. BBC One continues to be the most-used news source, boasting a 49% usage rate, but has seen a gradual decline over the years. Will traditional media pivot, or continue to cater to older generations only as media consumption behaviours shift and change?