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Study: Minority Youth Have Big Media Appetite

CHICAGO – Minority youth spend more than half their day consuming media content, a rate that’s 4.5 hours greater than their White counterparts, according to a Northwestern University report released Wednesday.

Television remains king among all youth, but, among minorities who spend 13 hours per day consuming media of various types, electronic gadgets such as cell phones and iPods increasingly are the way such content gets delivered, the report found.

“Children, Media and Race: Media Use Among White, Black, Hispanic and Asian American Children” was touted by researchers as the first national study to focus exclusively on children’s media use by race and ethnicity.

Minority youth media consumption rates outpace their White counterparts by two hours when it comes to TV and video viewership, approximately an hour for music, up to 1.5 hours for computer use, and 30 to 40 minutes for playing video games.

“In the past decade, the gap between minority and White youth’s daily media use has doubled for Blacks and quadrupled for Hispanics,” said Northwestern Professor Ellen Wartella, who co-authored the study along with former Kaiser Family Foundation vice president Vicky Rideout and Northwestern post-doctoral fellow Alexis Lauri.

Wartella acknowledged that technology is a structural part of modern society but said the numbers suggest that young people are settling for a sedentary lifestyle and risk further exacerbating ongoing problems such as child obesity. She said increased parental involvement, including limiting usage time and monitoring content, could mitigate those concerns.

“Our study is not meant to blame parents,” Wartella said, adding that in some cases minority youth are using media to bridge the gap between themselves and a predominantly White culture. “But it suggests that kids are very much tethered to technology at all times. To be tethered so much by technology seems to be an imbalance … as a parent of two boys, I know it’s a wake-up call for me: All things in moderation.”

The report analyzes by race data from the 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation Generation M2 study on media use among 2,000 8- to 18-year-olds and the foundation’s 2006 Media Family study on another 2,000 children from birth to 6 years old. It did not chart the type of programming youth were consuming nor did it offer final conclusions.

Young people in all groups read for pleasure 30 to 40 minutes a day, the only medium that no difference was found between minority and White youth.

Other findings include:


n      Minority youth spend 3 hours and 7 minutes per day using mobile devices to watch TV and videos, play games and listen to music. That’s about 1.5 hours more each day than White youth.


n      Traditional TV viewing remains most popular. Black and Hispanic youth consume more than three hours daily; Whites and Asians more than two hours.


n      Access to TiVo, DVDs, and mobile and online viewing increase television consumption to 5 hours and 54 minutes for Black youth, 5 hours and 21 minutes for Hispanics, 4 hours and 41 minutes for Asians, and 3 hours and 36 minutes for Whites.


n      Black and Hispanic youth are more likely to have TV sets in their bedrooms (84 percent of Blacks, 77 percent of Hispanics compared to 64 percent of Whites and Asians) and to have cable and premium channels available in their bedrooms (42 percent of Blacks and 28 percent of Hispanics compared to 17 percent of Whites and 14 percent of Asians).


n      78 percent of Black youth, 67 percent of Hispanic, 58 percent of White and 55 percent of Asian 8- to 18-year-olds say the TV is “usually” on during home meals.


n      Black children under 6 are twice as likely to have a TV in their bedroom as Whites, and more than twice as likely to go to sleep with the TV on.


n      Asian youth spend more time in recreational computer use: Nearly 3 hours a day compared to 1:49 for Hispanics, nearly 1.24 for Blacks and 1:17 for Whites.

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