16 percent of all Millennials
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Roughly half the size of the Unattached, this cohort of younger Millennials (age 18-24) also have not yet established families or started careers. But they have slightly higher employment, and they are more self-directed in their approach to the web and information. They are far more likely than the Unattached to say they actively seek out news and information rather than bump into it. They are much more likely to follow specific news topics and current events. And this group is even more likely than older Millennials to engage in certain news behaviors—including talking about the news with friends or using social networks to delve deeply into news they have heard about.
Demographics: In all, 7 in 10 Explorers are employed, which ranks in the middle range of Millennials.
Many Explorers have household incomes of less than $30,000 a year (46 percent), but about 1 in 4 Explorers have incomes of $75,000 or more, which ranks behind only the older Activists.
Many Explorers, like the Unattached, are still in the midst of their education. More than 1 in 3 have a high school education (39 percent), 1 in 3 have some college education (31 percent), and 1 in 5 have a college degree (24 percent).
Only 18 percent have families, which ranks lowest among the four groups. The group consists of more men (56 percent) than women (44 percent) and is racially similar to the Unattached (51 percent non-Hispanic white, 15 percent non-Hispanic black, 15 percent Hispanic, and 18 percent other).
Explorers are highly connected, and 97 percent have a smartphone, which ranks among the highest for all Millennials.
Motivation and interest in news: Most Explorers believe following news is important for both social and civic reasons, and many follow a variety of different current events and news-you-can use topics.
Indeed, Explorers are more likely than all other Millennials to consume news as a part of their social lives, that is, to report that they use news to talk with friends, family, or colleagues about what is going on in the news (74 percent). That is a higher number than even Activists, older Millennials who are active news seekers and consumers (55 percent of whom say they consume news because they like to talk about it) and also higher than the Unattached (49 percent) or the older but Distracted (44 percent).
In addition, nearly 2 in 3 (63 percent) of these young Explorers report that they find following the news enjoyable.
The majority of Explorers cite other more civic motivations for following events in the world (64 percent say they do so because it helps them stay informed, and 55 percent because it helps them feel connected to their community).
Sixty-one percent of Explorers regularly use paid news content, with 44 percent paying for it personally and another 17 percent using a service that someone else buys.
A majority of Explorers say they regularly follow news on national politics or government (57 percent) and science and technology (54 percent). Nearly half follow business news (44 percent) and news about schools and education (43 percent).
Explorers are also among the most likely Millennials to follow practical news. For example, Explorers are more likely than the Unattached to follow information related to their job (52 percent vs. 38 percent) and information about their town or city (47 percent vs. 33 percent).
Online activities and social media: While the Unattached are more likely to use the web for entertainment, Explorers are more likely to use the internet and social media to gather information and connect with people.
This sense of the web as a source of information and connection can be seen in their higher likelihood than other groups to do a variety of tasks online. A majority, for instance, say they get news at least several times a day from Facebook (52 percent). Explorers also are among the most likely to get news at least several times a day from Reddit (12 percent), Twitter (14 percent), Instagram (25 percent), and YouTube (29 percent).
Many Explorers also report using Facebook to get more information on something they heard about in the news (39 percent). That is higher than any other group, including Activists, the most news-oriented older Millennials (24 percent of whom do this kind of deep diving of news on Facebook), the Unattached (28 percent), or the older Distracted (31 percent). At the same time, Explorers are also more likely than other Millennials to use Twitter for social rather than news purposes—that is, in order to see what is happening with friends (21 percent compared with 15 percent of the Unattached, 8 percent of the Distracted, and 10 percent of Activists).
Explorers are also among the most likely to click on or investigate social media opinions that are different from their own. Fully 40 percent always or often click on different opinions compared with 28 percent of the Unattached, 18 percent of the Distracted, and 26 percent of Activists.