Teens Follow The News, Too, Just Not The Same Way You Do

When we think about how teens spend their time, a lot of us imagine them face down in their devices, vegging out on the couch, or, increasingly, a little bit of both. That image isn’t totally askew; after all, recent research shows that teens 13-18 spend almost 9 hours a day consuming media. 

While we of other generations might assume that teens’ media time is dedicated to things like celebrity gossip, lip-syncing or funny videos, teens are, in reality, very engaged with news. In fact, in a poll by, 84% of teens said they pay attention to current events. For news broadcasters and other content publishers challenged by the shift away from traditional media consumption models, this is great news. Here’s an audience that is critical for continued growth that is ready to engage. They’re just probably not engaging in the same places that you are. 

Like nearly everyone these days, the digital native generation is following the events of the world through social channels. The difference is that, for most of us, Facebook is the dominant player in the news-content-delivery game. If you’re looking to connect with Gen Z, however, you should be looking to Twitter and Snapchat.



According to a Defy Media survey conducted for Variety, a whopping 30% of Snapchat users between ages 13 and 24 get all of their presidential election news exclusively from the app. Not only does Snapchat allow teens to feel tuned into whatever is happening right now in the world around them, its central focus on video content plays right into their media consumption habits. Seventy-three percent of teens 14-17 are regularly accessing web content directly via video content distributors. It’s the format they want, and publishers should take heed.

While Gen Z also views Twitter as a primary source for breaking news content and constant updates because it offers the immediacy that they want, Snapchat remains teens’ most popular social platform. It’s also the fastest-growing network, and as it’s grown and embraced content from publishers, features like Discover and Live Story have emerged so that news organizations can push out stories and information on breaking events.

As viewership of traditional television news and readership of print media continue to decline, news broadcasters and publishers must engage the younger generation. They’re getting their news through social platforms and prefer it as video. This doesn’t mean written coverage is going to or should disappear, but it does mean that a video strategy is needed to capture a younger audience and build trust among them.

Creating that relationship is absolutely essential in cultivating lifelong viewers. Even established, respected outlets must create inroads with the teenage demographic if they hope to remain relevant as the nature of news media and its consumption continues to change. A video-first strategy will help open the door to the teenage demographic, which is the key to long-term success in this ever-shifting landscape.

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