The Role of Critical Thinking, News Literacy, and Social Media Literacy in the Consumption of Mainstream News Through Social Media Sites Among Adolescents

In recent years there has been an increase in the reliance on social media sites as mainstream news sources, especially among adolescents and young adults (Ku et al., 2019). For example, Matsa (2022) and Liedke and Gottfried (2022) found that in 2022, 10% of Americans turned to TikTok for news, compared to 3% in 2020, with individuals under 30 years old being the most likely to get their news from the app. Not only has there been an increase in the use of social media sites for news consumption, but social media sites have been identified by many adolescents as their preferred news source (Ku et al., 2019). Additionally, research has shown that many Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 trust news that is shared on social media as much as, or more than, they trust news from national news broadcasters (Liedke & Gottfried, 2022). The increased use of social media as a source of news raises concerns as to whether the information is presented accurately to the consumer, as well as whether consumers can accurately assess the legitimacy and reliability of the information presented to them (Ku et al., 2019; Tian, 2022).

Social media sites use algorithms to determine what content users like and dislike. While these algorithms aim to keep the consumer entertained, they play a detrimental role in disseminating mainstream news (Ku et al., 2019). The algorithms note what content consumers are most likely to engage with, and they present the consumer with similar types of content (Ku et al., 2019). In the context of mainstream news, this is concerning, as these algorithms can create situations where consumers are exposed to news that is biased, one-sided, or in line with their existing views, which challenges the consumer’s ability to think critically about the media in front of them (Ku et al., 2019) Additionally, Tian (2022) found that relying on social media sites for news can lead to burnout in which adolescents become overwhelmed with the sheer amount of news available to them across the various social media platforms. In turn, adolescents become less likely to engage meaningfully with mainstream news.

Despite these concerns, social media sites allow adolescents to actively participate in discussions about mainstream news. As such, rather than limiting access to social media among adolescents, they must be regularly taught critical thinking skills. While the current education system tends to discuss these skills already, it would be beneficial to include social media-specific critical thinking skills in the curriculum for all ages. Ku et al. (2019) found that adolescents are generally able to understand the content, context, and political leanings of the news that they come across on social media, while they struggle to evaluate the legitimacy of the sources that the news relies upon. Additionally, adolescents who actively seek out news, as well as those who understand social media algorithms tend to display stronger critical thinking skills than adolescents who do not (Ku et al., 2019) As such, the curriculum surrounding critical thinking should place particular focus on the evaluation of sources. On top of critical thinking skills, adolescents should be taught news literacy skills to prevent the burnout associated with the massive amount of news that is always available to them (Tian, 2022). News literacy includes the ability to critically assess the material that is presented, as well as an understanding of the tactics that different news sources may use to spread their message (Vraga & Tully, 2021). Finally, adolescents must be taught a basic understanding of the mechanics of social media sites. An understanding of social media algorithms, and more specifically, how their interactions with social media content impact the types of content that they will see on their pages in the future would better equip adolescents with the necessary skills to critically evaluate the news that is presented to them (Tian, 2022)

The last few years have seen a drastic increase in the use of social media as a source of mainstream news, especially among adolescents (Liedke & Gottfried, n.d.; Matsa, 2022). While this allows adolescents to be active participants in discourse about mainstream news stories, concerns have been raised as to whether social media sites accurately present and share information with their audience, as well as whether adolescents are prepared to critically assess the information that is presented to them (Ku et al., 2019; Tian, 2022). To maximize the benefits and minimize the risks associated with the consumption of news through social media, education for adolescents about critical thinking, news literacy, and social media literacy should be included in the curriculum in schools (Ku et al., 2019; Tian, 2022; Vraga & Tully, 2021).


Ku, K. Y. L., Kong, Q., Song, Y., Deng, L., Kang, Y., & Hu, A. (2019). What predicts adolescents’ critical thinking about real-life news? The roles of social media news consumption and news media literacy. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 33, 100570.

Liedke, J., & Gottfried, J. (2022). U.S. adults under 30 now trust information from social media almost as much as from national news outlets. Pew Research Center. Retrieved November 9, 2023, from

Matsa, K. E. (2022). More Americans are getting news on TikTok, bucking the trend on other social media sites. Pew Research Center. Retrieved November 7, 2023, from

Tian, Q. (2022). Impact of Social Media News Overload on Social Media News Avoidance and Filtering: Moderating Effect of Media Literacy. Frontiers in Psychology, 13, 862626.

Vraga, E. K., & Tully, M. (2021). News literacy, social media behaviors, and skepticism toward information on social media. Information, Communication & Society, 24(2), 150–166.


I put off working on my website accessibility until this week because I thought that it was going to be way more difficult than it was. I did some reflecting on this and realized that just because I am privileged enough to not have any unique accessibility needs, it is unfair for me to make my audience wait for their needs to be met just because I think it is going to be an inconvenience for me.

I installed the One Click Accessibility plug-in and the WP Accessibility plug-in, which did most of the work for me. There is now a button on the side of my site where users can change various settings to make the website more accessible which is awesome. Additionally, I added alt-text to my photos. I need to consult with Christina or Suzanne about the text I have created because I am not totally sure if it is correct, but at least there is something there now. I also need to figure out how to add alt-text to my header image, because I am not prompted to do so anywhere in WordPress. I am going to spend some time this week looking into what needs to be done to make videos on my site more accessible, as I have a few posted already.

Make Meal Prep Easier

I feel like I need to put a major disclaimer on this post. Nutrition is entirely dependent on your individual needs, what works for me may not work for you. This point is simply meant to make nutrition seem a little less daunting by giving you some of my tips and tricks that have set me up for success. Personally, I track my macros to manage my food intake, but I don’t have any qualifications to advise you on how to determine what your macros should be.

Stick to the basics

One of the mistakes that I made a lot when I first started meal prepping was trying to make these elaborate meals with a ton of components. While yes, they tasted really great, it was not sustainable because the prep took me so much time. It also didn’t allow for any flexibility, because everything was pre-made and pre-portioned.

Now, I prep ingredients rather than whole meals. Generally, I cook a couple of chicken breasts and some ground beef as my protein sources, a few different veggies, and then usually some rice or pasta as my carb sources.

Set aside time for meal prep

My schedule kind of sucks right now, and there are days where I have to leave the house before 7 am and I don’t get home until after 9 pm. On those days, having all my meals prepped and ready to go means that I get to sleep a little longer and save myself a whole lot of stress. I like to prep for a few days at a time, so I typically will set aside about 2 hours or so twice a week to plan and cook. Certain things don’t prep well so I will make them as I go, like my oatmeal and eggs in the mornings, for example.

Get some nice containers and a good lunchbox

When I buy new containers I look for ones that are compact, leak-proof, and microwave-safe. I like glass containers for storing food at home, but I prefer plastic containers for on-the-go meals because they are way easier to carry around in my backpack all day. My favourite containers are from the Rubbermaid Brilliance collection.

A good lunch box is important, especially if you carry food with you all day like I have to. Find a lunchbox that is insulated that you can add ice packs to so that your food can essentially be refrigerated on the go. Lately, I’ve been using this super compact one from Amazon.

Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

Seriously. Set yourself up for success by grocery shopping with a list, set aside some time to prep, and stick to the basics.

Peer Review 2

Julia’s Digital Diary is an online collection of her varied interests, ranging from books and music to food and fun activities. In the “About” section, Julia explains to her audience that she wants her blog to be where she can talk about all her interests in one place. The home page of the site is designed to look like a notebook. The different shades of pink in the header are striking, and they remind me of diaries that I had as a younger girl, which creates a sense of nostalgia! 

Julia’s site exhibits great balance. There are photos of varied sizes across the site that create visually appealing asymmetry. In addition, the photos used across the site, like the photo of Julia in the sidebar, create a nice contrast that makes her posts pop. I also think the site has accomplished a good sense of unity, as the font, colours, and style are uniform and consistent across the entire site. I thought it was great that the site’s theme carried over to Instagram as well. 

The site is easy to navigate, with clear menu categories and post titles. As I was navigating through her site, though, I noticed that when you click on the “Blog” section, you are directed to a blank page. To fix this issue, Julia may have to edit her posts so that they are included on the blog category landing page. Additionally, it appears as though Julia is still working on a lot of her content, as there are a few posts that have titles and photos, but no content. 

I enjoy the content that is up so far on the site. As someone who is also into books and music, I love hearing other people’s opinions on these topics. Julia’s writing style makes you feel like you are having a conversation with her, which is entertaining and relatable. When reading her post about “Nook,” I noticed that she mentioned a previous post she had written about another restaurant and included a very clear link back to that post, which is super smart. Additionally, I appreciated the seamless integration of her Spotify playlist in her “for life music” post. 

I think that Julia would benefit from reading the assigned article from week 7 by Travis Gertz. In this article, Gertz discusses ways in which site administrators and designers can learn from editorial-style designers. I think this design style would translate well to Julia’s site, as it almost reads like a magazine. Overall, the design and layout of Julia’s site are visually appealing and easy to navigate, and her content is super fun to read. 

Total Overhaul… Again

We had the first tutorial since the strike last week, and Christina gave me some feedback that disrupted my progress. She told me that my website design needed some improvement, which I kind of expected to hear but wasn’t ready for because the design process has been such a headache for me. That day, I decided to change the theme of my website once again to one that allows for more customization. The theme and layout of my site does stray quite far from what I originally imagined it to look like, but I am surprisingly pleased with the result. The new theme looks more sleek and refined, I was able to insert a photo into the header, which my previous theme did not allow. I also added a logo to my site, so now there is a little dumbbell next to the URL.

One thing that I have struggled with all semester is trying to create the “About” page. No matter how many tutorials I watched, I was never able to make it a separate page. I originally made the “about” section a post and then assigned the post to a menu category. As a result, when I clicked on the “about” menu section, the content was displayed as a post that I had to click on to read, rather than being directly displayed on the page. I’m not sure how I missed it for so long, but after more exploring I discovered how to add a page to a menu, and it solved all of my “about” section problems. I now have a whole page dedicated to the section that is connected to my sites menu, which is a big win for me.

Digital Gardens

I found this week’s reading, “Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet,” quite interesting. The author explained that the nature of the internet has changed over time, allowing people more creative freedom over their online real estate. The author uses the term “digital gardens” to explain that blogs and personal sites can really be whatever we want them to be. They don’t have to be these formal pages that follow the same template week after week.

I felt quite inspired by this article. Since starting this blog, I have struggled to find my voice. I have so many ideas, but this blog is the first time I have had this much creative control over anything, and stringing all my ideas together has been difficult. This article helped me realize that I shouldn’t be afraid to take more risks with my content and try out new types of posts. The written posts are still going to be the bulk of the blog, but I am going to experiment with video posts and photos to share with my audience.

I want to create a blog that is useful for others, but I also want to use this space to express myself and share my passion creatively.

My Audience

When I decided to make my blog about fitness, I knew I wanted it to cater to an audience I have been a part of. More specifically, I wanted to create a space for people just getting started in the fitness world, because it can be so intimidating. When I was first learning about fitness, I found the most valuable information came from fitness professionals and influencers who made their content accessible for all skill levels, so that is what I have tried to do with this blog so far.

There is almost too much information available on the internet about fitness, so to separate myself from the masses, I blog about the absolute basics. I want Fueling Your Twenties to act as a blueprint that anyone can access and apply to their own journey. I focus on using simple language and keep my posts as short as they can be to make them more accessible and easy to digest.

Truthfully, I picture my audience being largely female. This influenced my choice of theme because I wanted to ensure that it looked feminine. Additionally, I made the whole site pink, because as a female myself, everything looks better in pink.

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