U.S. teenagers have little interest in news: study

BOSTON (Reuters) - War and politics are largely ignored by American teenagers, according to a Harvard University study released on Tuesday, which found that 60 percent of them pay little attention to daily news.

Researchers interviewed 1,800 people between January and March and found that 28 percent of Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 said they pay almost no attention to news every day. Another 32 percent said they pay only casual attention to one news source a day.

“News is not something that gets a lot of time or attention or interest from teens,” said Thomas Patterson, a professor of government and the press at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Among people aged 18 to 30, the poll found 48 percent said they are inattentive to daily news. Only 23 percent of older Americans said they largely ignore news.

In general, soft stories about celebrities interest young people more than hard news stories like congressional votes or developments in Iraq.

One reason teenagers may pay less attention to news than older Americans is only one in 20 young people rely heavily on a daily newspaper, according to the survey, which had a margin of error of 2 percent to 3 percent.

The poll was released amid tough times for many American newspapers, with falling readership and advertising revenue.

Even the Internet, the preferred way for teenagers and young adults to get news, is not stimulating interest in current affairs, Patterson said. Internet-based news, receives about the same attention from older adults as it does from younger ones, the survey found.

“It is hard to pick up a newspaper and ignore that there is a front page, but with the Internet it is easy to play games or conduct a search without seeing news,” said Patterson.

“On the Internet you have to make a deliberate choice to go somewhere and we are finding that young people are not making an appointment with news.”

Teenagers and young adults are twice as likely to watch television for their daily news, relying largely on the same types of outlets as older Americans, the survey found. The only difference is that older Americans are twice as likely to watch television news regularly.