Social Media is my generation's news source
When you think of ways to stay up to date with current events, what springs to mind is probably newspapers, radio, and the six o'clock news. But when I think of my news source, I think of social media. Apps like TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram jump out at me immediately as places where I can find out what's happening worldwide. My generation is much more likely to come across an article when scrolling on social media than we are to purposely sit down and watch the news.
Traditional news can often be tedious and filled with less exciting content you must sit through to get to the big headlines. And who wants to watch an hour of doom and gloom when a new season of your favourite show has just dropped? Trust me when I say no one my age will sit down and read a newspaper when we can scroll through something on our phones. If we see an exciting headline, we might click on a link and skim-read an article, but most of us will get our news from friends sending us something or coming across something on our preferred social media platform's feed.
Now, you might worry that because our information is coming from an alternative news source that it can't possibly be true. While yes, the number one rule of the internet is don't believe everything you see; this doesn't mean everything is automatically a lie. Instagram accounts, such as The Happy Broadcast and Shit You Should Care About, are dedicated to sharing news. The Happy Broadcast only shares fact-checked anxiety-free information, which is always a nice change in today's world. And SYSCA shares reputable stories and funny, topical things they have seen (think the project for those in NZ). However, it's not just Instagram that has these alternative news sources. Many people like to watch TikTok videos or podcasts; some sign up for online newsletters from their favourite accounts, and Facebook lovers have their news sources.
The war in Ukraine has also boosted social media as a news source. Many citizens post first-hand accounts about what is happening, whether talking in a video or just sharing footage of the horrors around them. This footage is usually extremely recent and gives viewers an idea of the average person's experience. Sometimes these videos get picked up by traditional news sources as well, but by then, the footage is less recent and therefore less relevant. These videos also have tremendous numbers regarding viewership, with viral videos gaining over 15 million views, rivalling some traditional news sources.
Traditional news sources have seen the power of social media and have started producing their content. Companies like the Washington Post, BBC News, and The Guardian Australia have TikTok accounts. Social Media is a great way to deliver short news segments in an approachable manner, and news services are beginning to take advantage of this. Some news companies even create content specifically for social media that doesn't get shown on other platforms. During the recent Australian elections, The Guardian had a TikTok account with daily updates on what was happening and explaining the voting process. This is great, considering TikTok's younger demographic would make up most of the first-time voters.
While social media is an excellent alternative to traditional news, it is essential to watch out for misinformation. When someone posts something, be critical. If it's something that sounds strange and you've never heard before, that's probably because it isn't true. A massive amount of misinformation was spread through social media about covid 19, and people looking for ways to protect themselves and their families were fed blatant lies. This misinformation mainly influenced older generations, and many were led to believe dangerous conspiracy theories. My age has been told repeatedly not to believe everything on the internet. As digital natives, many of us are aware of misinformation. However, for older generations who aren't as used to social media, the mix of real news and misinformation can be hard to navigate.
Social media can be a great place to find out what is happening worldwide, and my generation tends to prefer it to traditional news sources. While it has its pros and cons, so does everything.
About the Author, Charlotte:
I am a 16yo student from Christchurch, New Zealand and my pronouns are they/she. I am a creative, outgoing person and am always up for a challenge.
I believe that everyone should know how to use social media confidently and safely in our increasingly digital world. I am proud to be a member of the Safe on Social Youth Advisory Committee.