Contrary to prevailing opinion, young people do read and keep up with the times — though a good portion of that reading takes place during time spent on social networks and smartphones.
A new survey reveals millennials — young adults, ages 18 to 34 — read the news on a daily basis. Typically, they access the news several times a day via social networking sites, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affair Research and American Press Institute poll.
The survey found that whereas young adults do take in current events, they are not specifically seeking out the news but are rather reading in a more passive fashion. Of the two-thirds reading news daily, 40 percent do so numerous times each day.
"I don't think people would expect us to know what we know," said 24-year-old Erica Quinn, who attends college in Gainesville, Fla., and participated in the survey.
The survey also shows that reading the news is tied to millennial's interest in civic issues, and that while 39 percent actively seek out the news, 60 percent "bump into" news on social network sites. Social sites are the favorite spot for finding soft news, while traditional news outlets are still the destination for harder news. Facebook — no surprise — is the top "news" site of those more interested in softer news.
Facebook isn't the only social network news site — the survey reports that young adults will use three or more social platforms including Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and Reddit.
A new trend illustrated in the survey is the active nature of news-reading by the younger generation, with millennials commenting and posting on news items and seeking out further information if they're skeptical of something they've read.
"So there's a level of activity or participation that wasn't even possible in earlier times," said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute.
The survey, which was funded by the American Press Institute, was conducted from early January to early February of this year. The polling involved 1,046 young adults reached on the phone through randomly generated calls. Participants completed the full survey online and were offered a small monetary incentive for participating.
The survey questions and results are available here.