A new Northwestern University study says minority youth ages eight to 18 spend more than half their day consuming media content – a rate that's 4.5 hours greater than their white counterparts.
The Children, Media and Race: Media Use Among White, Black, Hispanic and Asian American Children report released Wednesday says that minority youths are more likely to spend up to 2 hours more per day watching TV, one hour more per day listening to music, 90 minutes more per day using a computer, and up to 40 minutes more per day playing video games than do their white counterparts.
Reading for pleasure in pre-teens and teens was equal across races, averaging at 30 to 40 minutes a day. But for children six and under, it was more likely that children of white parents were reading or read to every day.
Multitasking among youth has been adopted as equal rates; around four in ten white, black and Hispanic 7th to 12th graders said that they use another medium “most of the time” they’re watching television.
Surprisingly, parental structures did not predict total media exposure. The study found that most parents do not set limits on the amount of time children can spend interacting with media for pleasure.
Within the use of these media, however, white parents were more likely to set rules for what their children could consume, including television programs watched, internet sites used, and their visibility on social networking sites like Facebook.
Co-author Ellen Wartella, head of Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development, says the study is not meant to blame parents but should serve as a wake-up call. She says increased parental involvement could mitigate potential problems, including child obesity.
The study authors argued that considering the role of media in the lives of children is incredibly important, noting that “the purpose of this report is to briefly hit a national ‘pause’ button: to stop and take note of these differences, to consider the possible positive and negative implications for young people’s health and well-being, and to reflect on how each of us can respond in our own realm.”