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Study: Minority kids use media more

Updated: August 3, 2011 5:20PM

Minority children spend more than half their day consuming media content — an average of 13 hours a day using mobile devices, computers, TVs and other media, which is about four and a half hours more than white kids, a Northwestern University study has found.

TV remains king among all youth, but among minorities, electronic gadgets such as cell phones and iPods increasingly are the way such content gets delivered, according to the report Wednesday, touted as 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 study co-author Ellen Wartella, head of Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development.

Asian Americans under 18 years old used the most media (13 hours, 13 minutes a day), the analysis found, and whites the least (eight hours, 36 minutes. Blacks and Hispanics both used media about 13 hours. Minority kids watch TV and videos one to two hours more a day, listen to music an hour more, use computers one and a half hours more and play video games 30 to 40 minutes longer, the researchers found. Black and Hispanic kids also are more likely to have a TV in their bedrooms and to eat meals in front of the TV. Among all groups, computer playtime far outweighed computer use for homework.

All of that time kids spend on electronic devices means that many of them are “going to miss out on a lot of important things, especially face-to-face contact,” says Eleanor Mackey, a clinical psychologist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., who says the fact that so many families are eating dinner with the TV on is “alarming.”

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