Study: Minority youth more likely to be plugged in

The results from two Kaiser Family Foundation surveys found minority children spend approximately 4.5 more hours a day using mobile devices, computers, TVs, and other media than white kids. Experts theorize the percentage difference may stem from the fact minority children are more likely to live in dangerous neighborhoods that require them to stay inside. Minority children are also more likely to have working parents. Children may use media due to lack of personal engagement.  If we can encourage children in these families—as well as their parent or caregiver—to encourage educational and mind-challenging games and activities, we could turn this into an advantage as opposed to a disadvantage in low in-come neighborhoods.

The studies found among 8-18 year olds:

  • Asian Americans use 13 hours, 13 minutes a day of media
  • Hispanics use 13 hours of media
  • Blacks use 12 hours and 59 minutes of media
  • Whites use 8 hours and 36 minutes of media

The report broke media down into the following categories to find when compared to white children minority children:

  • Watch TV and videos one to two hours more a day
  • Listen to music an hour more a day
  • Use computers 1.5 hours more a day
  • Play video games 30-40 minutes longer a day
  • Black (84%) and Hispanic (77%) kids are more likely to have TVs in their room and eat their meals in front of a TV

The report did show minority and white children shared some common behaviors when it came to their digitized study time:

  • Computer playtime outweighs computer use for homework by a landslide. Only about 16 to 20 minutes a day are used on school work.
  • As many as 47% of kids say “most of the time” they multitask with another form of media alongside the primary medium.

Many parents, educators, and childhood experts were already concerned that kids are too tapped in to technology and fear the unknown effects of technology on their social and emotional skills. Many people are also concerned with the rising level of obesity rates among children, especially among minority youth. The increased screen time and rise in obesity has some experts wondering if there isn’t a correlation.   One thing is for sure:  if 16 to 20 minutes a day is spent on school work, we can talk all day about getting at-risk students college ready, but they won’t be college ready until they are able to spend at least two to three hours a night studying, reading and researching on-line.  The discipline that this takes is the challenge we have if we truly want to give inner city and/or at-risk youth advantages that their middle and high income counterparts enjoy.


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