Singapore Polytechnic survey finds that Internet users are more informed about current affairs than those using traditional media

15 Jan 2019

Singapore, 15 January 2019 – Singapore youth who prefer the Internet as their source of news were found to have a higher level of current affairs knowledge than those who prefer traditional media.

This was one of the key findings discovered from the survey conducted by students from Singapore Polytechnic (SP)’s Diploma in Media and Communication (DMC) in June 2018. The study focused on Singapore youth’s news consumption habits and their level of current affairs knowledge.

The current affairs quiz consisted of 18 current affairs multiple-choice questions covering both international and local, political and entertainment news. The questions included: “Which of the following announcements were made in the Singapore Budget 2018?” and “What is the name of the American TV actress who recently married Prince Harry of the British Royal Family?”. Their level of current affairs knowledge was then determined based on the percentage of questions answered correctly.

A total of 802 youth aged 15 to 35 were surveyed via face-to-face street interviews. Of these respondents, 394 were male and 408 were female.

Among the key findings were that respondents who prefer the Internet as their source of news attained a higher average score of 52.1 per cent while those who prefer traditional media such as physical newspapers, television and radio scored an average of 47 per cent, 37.3 per cent and 43.3 per cent, respectively.

The survey also revealed that amongst net users, social media users had the lowest current affairs knowledge. They scored an average of 47.6 per cent and displayed a lower level of current affairs knowledge than those who preferred news websites, news applications or any other internet platforms, whose average scores were 52.2 per cent, 54.2 per cent and 52.9 per cent, respectively.

Tracey Ang, a second-year DMC student, said: “As a news application user, I believe the notification function plays a big part in helping me stay informed of current affairs. Even if I am not actively consuming the news at any point in time, the push notifications still update me whenever, and when I find the headline interesting, I will be inclined to click on it and read the full story.”

Fellow student, Sammi Poo, added: “It is no doubt that the connectivity of social media makes it easier for users like me to stumble upon news shared by friends. This allows us to stay informed about current affairs indirectly. However, it is likely that the news we consume on social media – if it is not from actual news outlets – may not be the most accurate.”

DMC lecturer, Ms Clarice Sim, who oversaw the survey, also added: “The issue of fake news and where people get their news from is increasingly becoming a concern. Using social media for news has also been on the rise, especially among our youth.”

As part of their Mass Media Research module, the DMC students had the opportunity to be directly involved in the planning, execution and analysis of the survey and findings. Such efforts are part of SP’s curriculum to provide students with opportunities to apply the skills learnt in school to real-world context.
SP’s Diploma in Media & Communication (DMC) studentsSP’s Diploma in Media & Communication (DMC) students presented their findings at the Mass Media Research Press Conference today. From left: Nur Khairiyah, Tracey Ang, Muhammad Farhan, Melissa Anne Lim and Sammi Poo. 

Key Findings

News consumption habits of Singapore youth (General)

  1. The majority of Singapore youth (87.3 per cent) most preferred the Internet as their source of news. Only 4.6 per cent preferred television, 3.9 per cent preferred physical newspapers, and 3.4 per cent preferred radio as their source of news.

Top five reasons for most preferred source of news

  1. It is the most accessible (93.6 per cent)
  2. It is free (67.4 per cent)
  3. Offers information or perspectives you can’t get from other news sources (22.7 per cent)
  4. Offers greater interactivity (19.1 per cent)
  5. Gives a detailed analysis of news issues (13.7 per cent)

2. 60.1 per cent of the youth consumed news at least once a day.

Reasons for consuming news

  1. Information in the news helps me improve my life (52.4 per cent)
  2. I enjoy talking about it with my family, friends or colleagues (51.9 per cent)
  3. I feel a social or civic obligation to stay informed (41.4 per cent)
  4. I need to follow the news for my job or school work (35.4 per cent)
  5. News provides a relaxing diversion or personal entertainment (34.8 per cent).

Top three types of news that interest youth

              a. Breaking News (78.8 per cent)

              b. Entertainment/Celebrity (48.4 per cent)

              c. Lifestyle (47.5 per cent)

3. 20.2 per cent of youth did not consume news from local newspapers, news websites and news applications.

  1. Instead, 43.8 per cent of them relied on social media, 19.8 per cent of them relied on official international news sources and 14.8 per cent of them relied on news aggregators.

Top five reasons for not using local news sources

  1. News coverage is too boring (45.7 per cent)
  2. Analysis is poor or one-sided (43.2 per cent)
  3. Too pro-establishment (27.8 per cent)
  4. Inconvenient (11.7 per cent)
  5. Paywall (11.3 per cent)

Current affairs knowledge of Singapore youth

  1. 74 per cent of youth believed they are informed on current affairs. However, Singapore youth scored an average of only 50.9 per cent on the current affair quiz.
    1. 25-29 year olds scored the highest of 54.6 per cent, 15-19 year olds scored 47.7 per cent, 20-24 year olds scored 51.2 per cent and 30-35 year olds scored 49.7 per cent.
  2. Among International prominent figures, 97.5 per cent of youth could identify Donald Trump as president of the United States of America (USA), 77.6 per cent could identify Meghan Markle as Prince Harry’s spouse and 57.5 per cent could identify Justin Trudeau as prime minister of Canada.
  3. Among local prominent figures, 91.8 per cent of youth could identify Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 65.6% could identify local influencer, Naomi Neo, 53.6 per cent could identify Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat and 41.6 per cent could identify Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.
  4. 22.4 per cent of youth were aware of USA pulling out of the 2015 Nuclear Agreement with Iran and 39.3 per cent knew about the announcement made by Tun Mahathir Mohamed on Malaysian Cabinet Ministers’ salary cut after the General Elections.
  5. 62.3 per cent of youth were aware of the announcement of GST being increased from 7 per cent to 9 per cent between 2021 and 2025 in the SG Budget 2018, and 24.1 per cent knew the name of SMRT’s seventh line, the Jurong Region line, which will open in 3 phases starting from 2026.

Current affairs knowledge and news consumption habits

  1. Youth who preferred the Internet as their main source of news scored higher on the current affairs quiz than those who preferred traditional media.
    1. On average, youth who preferred the Internet scored 52.1 per cent, while those who preferred physical newspapers, television and radio scored 47 per cent, 37.3 per cent and 43.3 per cent, respectively.
    2. Among Internet platforms, youth who preferred social media scored the lowest at 47.6 per cent while those who preferred news websites and news applications scored 52.2 per cent and 54.2 per cent, respectively.
  2. Youth who did not consume local newspapers, news applications and news websites scored lower on the current affairs quiz than those who did.
  1. On average, youth who did not consume local newspapers, news applications and news websites scored 46 per cent, while those who did scored 52.1 per cent.

END

For media enquiries:

Lynn Wee
Communications Department
Singapore Polytechnic
T: 6870 7866
E: lynn_wee@sp.edu.sg

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