Public Release: 

New survey examines racial and ethnic differences in technology use by millennials

Hispanic and African American Millennials use technology as frequently as other Millennials, but when it comes to news, they access different sources and topics

NORC at the University of Chicago

A new study conducted by the Media Insight Project, a collaboration between the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found that while the similarities to the rest of their generation are numerous, there are some distinct differences in the way that Hispanic and African American Millennials use technology to access news and information. The source of their information is one area of difference: these young adults are more likely to use YouTube and Instagram for news than Millennials in general, though all groups rely heavily on Facebook. The study is a deeper examination of a large nationwide survey of 1,045 adults age 18-34 conducted from January 5 through February 2, 2015. Additional analysis was conducted to determine whether there are major differences between racial and ethnic groups within the Millennial generation.

"This survey shows that Hispanic and African American Millennials are just as likely as the rest of their generation to use the internet and social media to find news," said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. "But there are differences in how they access the news, and some differences in the types of news and information they tend to follow."

Some of the key findings of this more detailed analysis include:

  • Facebook and search engines are the primary means by which Millennials obtain their news for a majority of topics, regardless of race or ethnicity.

  • Hispanic and African American Millennials, however, use YouTube and Instagram more for getting news than the population overall. Use of other platforms--such as Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, and Tumblr--for news is similar across racial and ethnic groups.

  • Millennials across racial and ethnic groups follow different news topics. Of the 24 news and information topics the survey asked about, significant racial and ethnic differences emerged for nine.

  • Millennials of all races and ethnicities are equally as likely to have paid news subscriptions.

  • Contrary to popular perception of the Millennial generation, only 51 percent say they are almost always or mostly online and connected, and this is consistent across racial and ethnic groups.

  • There are differences between ethnic groups in how they spend their time online: only 37% of Hispanic Millennials, for example, report playing games online, compared to 50% of white Millennials.

"This new research makes it even clearer that the so-called 'digital divide' hasn't materialized as envisioned." said Tom Rosenstiel, Executive Director of the American Press Institute. "Not only are people of different ethnicities connected at relatively the same rate, but they also act in fairly similar ways online in many respects. Where we see differences, it is in some of the topics they follow, and interestingly, in the use of alternative paths to find them."

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About the Survey

This study was conducted by the Media Insight Project, a collaboration of the American Press Institute and the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The study included multiple modes of data collection, including a qualitative component whose results are not included in this report. However, a detailed description of the qualitative methodology can be found in the main report. The survey was conducted January 5-February 2, 2015, and reached 1,045 adults nationwide between the ages of 18 and 34. Study recruitment was completed through a national probability telephone sample, while the main portion of the questionnaire was administered online. The margin of error was +/- 3.8 percentage points. A full description of the study methodology can be found at the end of the report.

The proper description of the survey's authorship is as follows: This study was conducted jointly by the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

About the Media Insight Project

The Media Insight Project is a collaboration between the American Press Institute and the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research with the objective of conducting high-quality, innovative research meant to inform the news industry and the public about various important issues facing journalism and the news business. The Media Insight Project brings together the expertise of both organizations and their respective partners, and involves collaborations among key staff at the American Press Institute, NORC at the University of Chicago, and the Associated Press. http://www.mediainsight.org/

About the American Press Institute

Founded in 1946, The American Press Institute conducts research, training, convenes thought leaders and creates tools to help chart a path ahead for journalism in the 21st century. The Press Institute is an educational non-advocacy 501(c)3 nonprofit organization affiliated with the Newspaper Association of America. It aims to help the news media, especially local publishers and newspaper media, advance in the digital age. http://www.pressinstitute.org

About The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research taps into the power of social science research and the highest-quality journalism to bring key information to people across the nation and throughout the world. http://www.apnorc.org

The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP. http://www.ap.org

NORC at the University of Chicago is an independent research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. http://www.norc.org

The two organizations have established The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research to conduct, analyze, and distribute social science research in the public interest on newsworthy topics, and to use the power of journalism to tell the stories that research reveals.

Contact: For more information, contact Eric Young for NORC at young-eric@norc.org or (703) 217-6814 (cell); Ray Boyer for NORC at boyer-ray@norc.org or (312) 330-6433; or Paul Colford for AP at pcolford@ap.org or info@apnorc.org.

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