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Arab youth increasingly engaged in social media, survey says

TV still primary source for news among youth

Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News
Emirati students in Abu Dhabi.
Gulf News

Dubai: Social media is increasingly becoming influential among the Arab youth, the fifth Arab Youth Survey revealed on Tuesday.

Commissioned by ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller and conducted by international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), the study looks into the concerns of 3,000 young Arabs from across 15 countries in the MENA region.

Sixty-four per cent of Arab youth use Facebook and socially interact or follow their friends, celebrities, and social commentators, respectively. About 94 per cent of their Facebook friends come from their own country.

Four out of ten Arab youth actively post tweets and nearly half respond to them. Eighty-seven per cent of them follow friends, while 46 per cent follow celebrities and 21 per cent follow journalists.

Blogging activity has reduced with just 46 per cent of respondents reading blogs, down by 15 per cent from 2012. Also, one in five Arab youth has their own blog, while 38 per cent contribute to a blog.

A significant shift in media consumption has been noted in the findings where more and more youth are turning to social media for news, from 20 per cent last year to 28 per cent this year. TV remains the number one source for news at 72 per cent, online news sites stand at 59 per cent, while newspapers are used as a news source by 24 per cent of the Arab youth.

“TV is still the number one source for Arab youth. Some 72 per cent say that’s where they get their news from. But only 40 per cent trust what they see on TV. Social media, online media are the way ahead and that’s where the Arab youth are increasingly looking for their news coverage,” Jeremy Galbraith, CEO of Burson-Marsteller, Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Gulf News.

Other influences

Seven out of 10 Arab youth consider their parents their biggest influence, followed by religion at 69 per cent, family and friends with 66 and 49 per cent respectively. Surprisingly, Arab youth give least importance to pop stars and sports figures in terms of having an influence on their lives.