Pew surveyed nearly 3,000 adults that belong to three generations — millennials, Gen X and baby boomers — on their political news consumption habits, and its findings included:
- 61 percent of millennials get political news from Facebook during a given week, while 60 percent of baby boomers do so from local TV. Just 37 percent of millennials get political news from local TV, and only 39 percent of baby boomers do so from Facebook. Gen X fell in the middle, with 51 percent getting political news from Facebook and 46 percent from local TV.
- Twitter was a less common source of political news across all three generations: 14 percent of millennials said they got political news via Twitter in the past week, versus 9 percent of Gen Xers and 5 percent of baby boomers.
- 24 percent of millennials say at least one-half of the posts they see on Facebook are related to government and politics, compared with 18 percent for Gen Xers and 16 percent for baby boomers.
- Flipping the script, 19 percent of baby boomers reported seeing no political posts on Facebook, versus 11 percent of Gen Xers and 10 percent of millennials.
- 31 percent of baby boomers who pay attention to political posts on Facebook say they posts they see are mostly or always in line with their own views, versus 21 percent for Gen Xers and 18 percent for millennials.
- Nearly one-half of respondents across all three generations said they follow news organizations, political parties or issues groups on Twitter — nearly one-half for news organizations or reporters, about three out of 10 for candidates or parties and 29 percent to 37 percent for issues-based groups.
- 32 percent of baby boomers reported seeing politics-related tweets as at least one-half of the tweets they read, compared with 24 percent for millennials and 20 percent for Gen Xers.
- Flipping the script, the numbers were similar for all three generations when it came to respondents who said none of the tweets they see is related to politics: 24 percent for millennials, and 21 percent apiece for the other two groups.
When it comes to where younger Americans get news about politics and government, social media look to be the local TV of the millennial generation.
We are only beginning to understand the complex interactions of personal choice, friend networks and algorithms in the social media space. As the research continues, these data suggest there are fundamental differences in the ways younger and older generations stay informed about political news.
Readers: How does your consumption of political news compare with Pew’s findings?
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