Life Style

How young people find their bearings in “the information chaos”

Liliana, 14, follows the war in Ukraine on her mobile, Instagram and TikTok. “I watch videos of young Ukrainians who talk about what they are going through, but also of young Russians who say that they are completely against the war”, says the young girl, a third-grade student in Moulins, in the Allier. To better understand the conflict and its challenges, Liliana also watches youtubers, such as “HugoDécrypte”, and content published by television channels on social networks.

On the other hand, when she comes across information “a little too big”, she talks to her history-geography teacher, “because he is the most knowledgeable on the subject”. Liliana also tries to verify on her own certain information which seems to her to be not very credible, but often ends up asking her parents with whom she watches the television news.

The family is often a source of information for 10-15 year olds, recalls Marie-Anne Denis, general manager of Milan Jeunesse (Bayard group, publisher of The cross), which recently published a survey on adolescents’ relationship to information. “Thus, 84% of young people questioned cite it as an information channel and 30% as the first channel, followed by television, among 10-13 year olds, and social networks, for 14-15 year olds”, she indicates.

Follow personalities or influencers

Hugo, 18, in his final year in Paris, is also watching the “20 hour news” with his parents, but for ” more details “, he will “on Twitter and Instagram accounts of HugoDécrypte, of Konbini or, sometimes, of the AFP”, he says. On the war in Ukraine and international issues, he also learns from his professor of geopolitics, one of his specialties in the baccalaureate. Passionate about sport, the young man also uses the Onefootball application and “follows” the Twitter account of the American NBA basketball championship.

“Social networks are the firstsource of information for 15-18 year olds”, observes Sophie Jehel, lecturer in information and communication sciences at the University of Paris 8 and author of a recent book on Adolescence at the heart of the digital economy (1).

They spend a large part of their time there and receive general information there via the accounts of professional media or youtubers who deal with current events, she explains. They also find information related to their areas of interest by following personalities or influencers. But when they want to better understand an event, they turn instead to television, which delivers information told in story mode, while it is fragmented on social networks. »

Video lovers

Young people watch television, and in particular the news channels continuously, on their smartphone, but “if the screen changes, the media remains the same”, also notes Arnaud Mercier, professor of information and communication sciences at the French Press Institute (IFP). Getting informed on social networks does not prevent them either “to click on print media sites”according to the specialist.

→ ANALYSIS. Do 18-24 year olds shun information?

“They have internalized the existence of leading media recognized as The world Where Le Figaro, for example, because teachers often use articles from these journals in their lessons. Even if they do not necessarily have access to all the content because they are paying, they have integrated this hierarchy. » Fond of video, teenagers also get information via Internet media such as Brut or Konbini, which deal with subjects more related to their areas of interest (ecology, minorities, gender, culture, sport), often in a fun way.

“Young people feel that the traditional media is not interested in them and this fuels a general feeling of mistrustanalyzes Arnaud Mercier. Like the 18-24 year olds interviewed in the Barometer of trust in the media of The cross, teenagers are critical of the reliability of information, after certain errors that have hit the headlines or the political treatment of certain events, such as the mobilization of yellow vests, for example. »

“Blend of Genres”

Sensitive to the discourse on media manipulation, many teenagers are aware of themselves being very exposed to fake news (or fake news) on social networks, according to the teacher. “There is a part of lucidity but they have also integrated the social judgment which consists in saying “Be careful, on the Internet, there is false information””, he raises. Thus, Liliana says she is vigilant but admits that she does not check all the information which seems dubious to her because she receives it ” too much “.

→ ANALYSIS. Media, young people get information in their own way

Sophie Jehel also talks about “whirlwind” and of “information chaos”. “We would like young people to be able to check the information but it is very complicated to find the sources onsocial networksbecause the information is decontextualized “, she underlines.

Sometimes the youngest are not even aware that this is information, notes for her part Virginie Sassoon, deputy director of the Center for Media and Information Education (Clemi), which organizes press and media week in schools every year. “They go from a video of kittens to a subject about Ukraine or a DIY tutorial, and this mixing of genres is confusing, she says. This is one of the challenges of media literacy: teaching young people to identify reliable information. »

Co-education between family and school

Michka, first in Paris, has never had a specific course in media education, but takes advantage of her geopolitical specialty at the baccalaureate to better understand the functioning of democracy and the media. The young man of 17, who grew up in a family of assiduous readers of the press, gets information on the sites of the World and Mediapart, “thanks to the codes” from his father. “I check their news feed all the time and I also go on Twitter a lot, he specifies. In general, the information that I see on Twitter, I find it before or after on the sites of the newspapers. There, on Ukraine, I am also independent journalists on the spot, via social networks. Since it’s their only channel of communication, I think it’s a reliable source. »

Vigilant too, Michka “inform” and if“educate politically”. He finds it unfortunate that the media say that “Young people don’t know” but recognizes that most of his friends or acquaintances do not, or so “Only on networks and TV. »

In reality, the practices of young people vary not only according to age but also according to social background. “The more teenagers are in favored school contexts, the greater the knowledge and frequentation of generalist mediaanalyzes Sophie Jehel. Conversely, in less favored situations, the share of entertainment increases and the distance from general news media is important. »

For Virginie Sassoon, media education is an issue of co-education between family and school. “Parents play a central role when they offer the first smartphone to their children, she recalls. According to a survey by the Parenthood Observatory and Unaf, the age of the first smartphone has just passed below the 10-year mark. » The deputy director of Clemi also insists on ” thecrucial mission ofteachers to teach young people how to seek, verify and locate quality information. It is an education for citizenship”.


Tools to be better informed

The Clemi

The Center for Media and Information Literacy website has countless resources, including videos for young people, educators and also families.

Fact or myth? The Critical Thinking Channel for Teens

Launched in November 2021 by Milan presse, this media and information literacy YouTube channel teaches how to outsmart fake news and understand where conspiracy theories come from.


YouTuber Hugo Travers deals with daily news, via short formats on social networks under the pseudonym of HugoDécrypte. Very popular with young people, it has more than 1.5 million subscribers. Since January, he also hosts the news show “Mashup” on the Twitch network.

The Morning Is Yours

Journalist Samuel Étienne reviews the day’s press live on Twitch, the platform for video game enthusiasts. He reads excerpts from articles and discusses current events with his 475,000 subscribers, including many young people.

The Flint robot selection

This tool allows you to get out of “information chaos”, by selecting the best journalistic work (articles, studies, podcasts, documentaries, etc.), “thanks to a clever mix” of artificial and human intelligence. By subscribing to, one receives a newsletter created ” tailored “addressed in free or paid version.


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