Study Reveals Younger People More Likely to Believe News on Social Media

Social media platforms were first invented as a means of communicating and staying in touch with one another over vast distances, but their usage has changed dramatically since they came about. More and more people are turning to social media as their primary sources of news, and a recent study conducted by BBC Education revealed that younger people are far more likely to believe something that they see on social media with all things having been considered and taken into account.

According to this study, around half of youngsters who are between the ages of 11 and 16 will trust news that they see on social media without looking into the source of that news. This is consistent with various other polls, including one conducted by Gallup which shows that younger people get most of their news from social media and are quite likely to trust news that they receive from people that they know such as their family and friends.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that this can be quite risky and concerning. Younger people are quite impressionable, and receiving news from social media can spread misinformation because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up showing news that the younger demographics would be unable or perhaps unwilling to properly verify. The rise of social media influencers, many of whom come from the aforementioned younger demographics, is also contributing to this phenomenon.

The truly damaging aspect of social media as it pertains to news is that users can set filters for themselves which will restrict their access to certain forms of content. This can result in them only seeing news that conforms to their world view and would therefore create an ideological bubble. Countless younger people often assume that their beliefs and world view are shared by everyone, but in spite of the fact that this is the case these ideologies are usually not consistent with the global cultural consciousness.

Tailor made feeds can be great for only getting content that is relevant to you, but coupling this with the tendency among younger users to use social media as a news resource creates a recipe for disaster. Parents need to start keeping an eye on what their children are looking at on social media. Children who were born after 2005 have essentially never known an era that preceded the advent of social media, and this will make them unable to discern reality from fiction. When the high rate of misinformation and fake news on social media is factored in, children are at a serious risk for developing warped worldviews.

Many social media platforms actively use algorithms that are designed to facilitate misinformation spreading even more rapidly. These algorithms try to create outrage since this generates the most interaction and engagement, and children who have not yet been able to develop critical thinking skills will be the biggest victims of this phenomenon in the end. The tech industry needs to take responsibility for this, since they are essentially turning children into products that they can profit from.

Read next: 69% Journalists Prefer Twitter as Their Platform of Choice According to This Study
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