[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 8-Jun-2011
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Contact: Wendy Leopold
w-leopold@northwestern.edu
847-491-4890
Northwestern University

Study: Stark differences in media use between minority and white youth

Minority youth aged 8 to 18 consume an average of 13 hours of media content a day -- about 4-1/2 hours more than their white counterparts, according to a Northwestern University report, the first national study to focus exclusively on children'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."

The report finds that minority children spend one to two additional hours each day watching TV and videos, approximately an hour more listening to music, up to an hour and a half more on computers, and 30 to 40 minutes more playing video games than their white counterparts.

The only medium for which no difference was found between minority and white youth was reading print for pleasure. Young people in all groups read for pleasure approximately 30 to 40 minutes a day, the study finds.

"Our study is not meant to blame parents," says Wartella, a longtime Sesame Workshop trustee 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 study, "Children, Media and Race: Media Use Among White, Black, Hispanic and Asian American Children," is based on a new analysis, by race, of data from the Kaiser Family Foundation's previous media use studies. It finds that race-related differences among youth are robust even when controlling for factors including parent education and whether or not children are from single- or two-parent families.

Other report findings:

The report is being released at the June 8 Lambert Family Communication Conference on Children, Media and Race, which will explore the health and educational implications of racial and ethnic differences in young people's media use. The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Pew Charitable Trusts Conference Center, 901 E Street NW, in Washington, D.C.

Participants will include Federal Communications Commission member Mignon Clyburn; National Telecommunications Information Administration Deputy Director Anna Gomez; MTV Tr3s executive Jose Tillan; and experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Common Sense Media, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and PBS Kids.

The Northwestern report analyzes by race data from the 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation Generation M2 study on media use among 8- to 18-year-olds and the foundation's 2006 Media Family study on children from birth to age 6. It is co-authored by Wartella, who also is professor of psychology in Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; Vicky Rideout, former Kaiser Family Foundation vice president; and Northwestern post-doctoral fellow Alexis Lauricella. The data include a nationally representative sample of 1,858 8- to 18-year-old students and 996 parents of 0- to 6-year-olds. Unless otherwise noted, all findings in this release concern 8- to 18-year-olds.

The report will be available June 8 at http://cmhd.northwestern.edu/?page_id=9. Reporters interested in obtaining the report prior to the June 8 embargo can e-mail Wendy Leopold at w-leopold@northwestern.edu or Susan Lamontagne at susan@publicinterestmedia.com.

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