College Students as News Consumers

Today, mobile devices have completely changed the way that we receive news and information. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of all American adults (47%) report getting some of their news from a mobile device, such as a cell phone or tablet computer. This study’s results show that individuals most frequently seek out practical, real-time information. Of mobile device owners,42% reported getting their weather updates on a mobile app.

The Pew Research Center also concluded that the majority of users that gather information and news through a mobile device/news app are between the ages of 18 and 29. Unity college students fall right within this age range, and so I asked three students how they kept up on the news while they were at school.

(Source: Dr. Ola Ayeni/Food Channel)

One student I talked to, a 20-year old female Captive Care and Education major, told me that she received all of her news from her cellphone. She told me that her phone had come equipped with a news media app called ‘Briefing’. Whenever she feels like scrolling through some news headlines, she told me, she opens the app and skims through the compilation of current highlights. When I asked her if the app was biased towards any issues or politics, she didn’t know what to respond — she said that she had never considered it before.

Next, I spoke to a 21-year old female Secondary Education student, who told me that she watches TV for all of her news. She told me that she will not necessarily watch one particular news station. She said that she will watch what is on and is most convenient. I asked her what students on campus should do if they did not have a television in their dorm room and she said that a news app would probably be the next best thing.

Finally I had a conversation with an 18-year old female Wildlife Biology student. When I asked her if she kept up on current news and events, she said that she tries to, although sometimes she doesn’t have the time. She continued to tell me that she would sometimes check a weather app for the forecast in the morning, and then she might scroll through the Facebook trending topics during her lunch break, but other than that she didn’t make much time for news media consumption.

Of these students I spoke to, none of them had picked up a newspaper or printed news source within the past month.

This is consistent with the findings of the Pew Research Center, which stated in March of 2011 that 69% of adults would experience little to no difference in their lives if newspapers were discontinued. Considering newspapers were once the primary news outlet hardly a lifetime ago, it is easy to see the influence that cellular devices has had on the consumption of news and information.

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