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Local professors share insight as more people turn to social media for research, information

Posted at 7:03 PM, Jan 10, 2024

TEMPLE, Texas — Megan Price is looking into buying her first home. She’s used TikTok to research first time home loans.

"I got a lot of different results and it was great kind of hearing from different people and different spaces, from realtors to mortgage lenders, to just people who have bought homes at 23 or 24 years old, talking about their experience," Price said.

"It was really beneficial for me.”

She’s not alone — more and more people are using social media to research and get information.

Nicole Stewart Ph.D is an Assistant Professor in Digital Media with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University.

"Generation Z and Alpha are definitely taking the lead here — research shows that Generation Z is using TikTok not just for entertainment, not just for news — they’re using it as their primary search engine," Stewart said.

"Another study came out last year by Perez as well, that shows it’s actually eating into Google's core search offerings as 40 percent of this generation is actually turning to TikTok and Instagram — it’s not just TikTok, TikTok and Instagram as their primary search engine.”

Stewart says to check your findings, just like you would if searching the web and make sure they are creditable.

Fact checking is something Price is already doing.

“If they’re claiming to be a mortgage lender or work in that space of realty then I definitely sort of vet it," Price said.

“I’ll go to their page, see if it looks legitimate and if it does, then I’ll kind of take that information in with a little bit more credibility.”

Expects say it’s convenient to get information from your favorite apps that you use all the time, but the future of how you take in that information is uncertain.

Dale Blasingame is an Associate Professor of Practice with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University.

"They’re going to want information in the form that they want right now, and at the moment that's short-form video but that changes over time," Blasingame said.

"It was just a couple of years ago that photos were everything, and then a few years before that it was texting links, so things change over time.”

Stewart and Blasingame say that artificial intelligence or AI is also on the rise, and it's something to be mindful of when you’re in the world of social media, because not everything you see or hear is always reality.