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Minority Youth Consume More Media than White Counterparts

Minority Youth Consume More Media than White CounterpartsYoung minorities between the ages of 8 and 18 consume media at an average of 13 hours per day — about 4 and 1/2 hours more than their white peers, according to a Northwestern University study.

Specifically, minority youth spend  an extra one to two hours each day watching TV and videos, up to an hour and a half more on computers, about an hour more listening to music, and 30 to 40 minutes more playing video games than their white counterparts.  This is the first national study to focus only on a young person’s media use by race and ethnicity.

“In the past decade, the gap between minority and white youth’s daily media use has doubled for blacks and quadrupled for Hispanics,” says Northwestern Professor Ellen Wartella, who directed the study and heads the Center on Media and Human Development in the School of Communication.

“The big question is what these disparities mean for our children’s health and education.”

There was no difference found between minority and white youth in reading print for pleasure—approximately 30 to 40 minutes a day, the study finds.

“Our study is not meant to blame parents,” says Wartella and Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in Communication. “We hope to help parents, educators and policymakers better understand how children’s media use may influence health and educational disparities.”

The new research was based upon on an analysis conducted by researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation. It finds strong race-related differences among youth even when controlling for factors such as parent education and whether or not children are from single- or two-parent families.

The researchers also found that minority young people are avid users of new media — a total of 3:07 in mobile media use among Asians, 2:53 among Hispanics, 2:52 among blacks, and 1:20 among whites.

Black and Hispanic youth watch an average of more than three hours of live TV each day — 3:23 for blacks, 3:08 for Hispanics, compared to 2:28 for Asians and 2:14 for whites. The study found that TV viewing rates rise higher when data on recording technologies such as TiVo, DVDs, and mobile and online viewing are included, to nearly 6 hours for black youth.

Black and hispanic youth are more likely to have televisions in their bedrooms (84% of blacks, 77% of Hispanics compared to 64% of whites and Asians), and to have cable and premium channels available in their bedrooms (42% of blacks and 28% of Hispanics compared to 17% of whites and 14% of Asians). Furthermore, 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. Black children under 6 are almost three times as likely to eat dinner in front of the TV than their white counterparts.

In addition, the researchers found that minority young people eat more meals in front of the TV (78% of black, 67% of Hispanic, 58% of white and 55% of Asian 8- to 18-year-olds report that the TV is “usually” on during mealtime at home).

Asian youth spend more time in recreational computer use — 2:53 for Asians; 1:49 for Hispanics; 1:24 for blacks and 1:17 for whites — and are more likely to have a computer in their bedroom — 55%, compared to 39% of Hispanics, 34% of blacks, and 32% of whites.

The researchers found no major differences that exist in the time young people spend using a computer for schoolwork, and only modest differences are evident in their tendency to multitask with media while doing homework. White, black and Hispanic youth average 16 minutes a day using a computer for schoolwork while Asians average 20 minutes (not a significant difference). The proportion of young people who report using entertainment media “most of the time” while doing homework ranges from 28% of whites and 30% of Asians to 35% of blacks and Hispanics.

The report was released at the June 8 Lambert Family Communication Conference on Children, Media and Race.

Source: Northwestern University

Minority Youth Consume More Media than White Counterparts

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2018). Minority Youth Consume More Media than White Counterparts. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 3, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 11 Jun 2011)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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