College Students and Their Online News Habits


Within the past few days, I have had similar conversations with different students at Unity college with structured questions about their online use and news consumption. After speaking with each of them individually, it was clear that their habits varied from each other.

The first individual I talked to was Nicholas, or Nick, who admitted to spending a lot of time on the internet although not much of his time was spent specifically looking at news outlets. Most of his time was spent on Facebook, Twitter, Steam (an online video game source) and Tumblr. This is very common for both men and women of his age. Amanda Lenhart at the Pew Research Center claimed that roughly 71% of teens use more than social network site.

“Facebook is the most popular and frequently used social media platform among teens

When I asked Nick if he kept up to date with news such as politics, he stated that “sometimes he would find himself reading articles linked and shared on Twitter and Facebook. It’s hard to not see certain news topics if you have an account.” Again, I did not find this surprising since Facebook is still the top most used social networking site for teens.

The second individual I talked to was named Joseph. Joe spent most of his time away from the computer and hardly ever went on Facebook. He is currently still one of the new strong individuals who does not yet have a smartphone and he refuses to budge on the matter. When he did go online, its typically Yahoo and Facebook that he spends the most time on.

When I asked if he got most of his news from “old” media sites (newspaper, etc) or television, he surprisingly denied. “I hardly read the newspaper” he stated, “And news channels are almost always incredibly biased and one sided. If there is ever was ever a topic that I wanted to know more about, I would spend the time looking up multiple articles from multiple online sources about it, because online articles are also biased and one sided, depending on where you look.” Joe falls in the 10% margin of online news consumers as he gets his news from more than one site.

My friend Dale was the last person I talked to. He spent an average amount of time on the social media, nearly all of this time on Facebook and sometimes Snapchat. He was relatively active and up to date with the news which he nearly solely got on Facebook. A lot of the time, the links sent him to Huffington Post and related sites. Roughly 62% of adults get their news from social media and Dale falls into that percentage.

A lot of the news he has interested was political, especially directed towards the elections. This topic is literally everywhere on Facebook.” he claimed, “It’s hard to scroll through your feed, and NOT see something about Trump or Hillary.” And its true. From my own personal experience I can completely agree that politics are election news are found in every nook and cranny of Facebook, let alone Twitter and similar networks. It’s a quick and efficient way for everyone to stay informed. Many companies understand the statistics how how many and how long Americans spend time on the internet and thus post articles constantly on popular social networking sites. What it came down to, is that even though the men I interviewed had different online habits, the majority of news they would originally get would be from Facebook.

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