Generation Z will soon make up an ever-growing share of the U.S. population, according to a study released Tuesday by Pew Research Center and the Pew Research Institute.
Millennials are now more likely than any other age group to consume news in a digital format, according a survey of 1,000 adults conducted March 27-April 1.
About a quarter of those ages 18 to 29 said they read news online, with the largest share (23 percent) among those aged 30 to 49.
And more than a third of Generation Z adults (34 percent) said they “generally” read news in the form of articles, compared with 18 percent of Generation Xers (16 percent), and 13 percent of Gen Xers.
Millennials have grown more news-consuming in recent years, with more than half of those who are between the ages of 18 and 34 consuming news online.
“They’re not just going to read a story, they’re going to digest it,” said Pew Research director Justin Wolfers.
“That’s a big shift.
And it’s going to have an impact on our news consumption.”
The generation’s rapid growth comes as news outlets are trying to cope with changing audiences and changing media formats.
The most recent news cycle has seen the proliferation of mobile devices, social media and streaming video.
The Pew study found that news consumption has increased by about a third among adults aged 18 to 34 in the past five years, and that this has translated into a “significant increase” in online news consumption among Gen Z and Generation Y. Millennials also consume more news in their digital feeds than any age group, but Pew found that their news consumption was about equal to that of Gen Y. Pew surveyed 1,001 adults ages 18 and older from March 27 to April 1 and found that the overall share of online news was higher among Gen X than Gen Y, and Gen X was more likely to be online than Gen X is to be offline.
The study found Gen Z’s news consumption increased by 12 percentage points, from 18 percent to 28 percent.
“This generation is more engaged in the news, they are reading more, and they are consuming more,” said Wolfers, who is also a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
“Their news consumption is more of a reflection of their news preferences.”
The Pew report noted that the generation’s “dynamism and their appetite for news has increased as they have grown older.”
Generation X and Gen Y also consume less than their Gen X peers.
About one-quarter of Gen Z adults and roughly one-fifth of Gen y adults said they did not read news at all.
The Gen X cohort is also more likely in their consumption to read online, Wolfers said.
Gen X also is more likely overall to watch TV, and their TV consumption is higher than their peers.
The Generation Y group is also significantly more likely online, and more likely now than Gen Z is to consume TV.
About 8 percent of Millennials and 7 percent of both Gen X and Y are online.
Wolfers cautioned that the numbers are small, because the study is based on only online news.
But, he said, “this is a real trend and it’s happening in a very big way.”
Millennials’ news consumption habits are a big part of why the media landscape is changing.
“We’ve been in a period where news consumption on the internet has become more and more important for our social interactions and our media consumption,” Wolfers noted.
“And now the internet is becoming a more important place to consume media.
The media landscape has shifted dramatically.
So, if we want to survive, it’s really important that we understand the news environment.”
Wolfers called news consumption an “ongoing challenge” for media outlets, saying, “The media is going to need to change their business model to survive.”