Study: Latino, Black Parents More Engaged in Monitoring Children's Media Use

By Sheryl Estrada

Afirst-of-its-kind studyanalyzes how parents contribute to their children’s online media use, includingsocial networking, watching television and video gaming.

Last week, the Common Sense Media group and researchers at Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development released data from“The Common Sense Census: Plugged-In Parents of Tweens and Teens 2016.”

It foundthe degree of a parent’s monitoring or strictness in regard to the online media usage of teens, ages 13-18, and “tweens,” ages 8-12, varies by ethnicity.

Nearly two-thirds of Latino and African American parents (66 percent and 65 percent, respectively) are closely engaged in monitoring and restricting their child’s media consumption, compared to half of white parents (51 percent).

Fifty-seven percent of Latino parents say they are concerned about their children over-sharing personal details online, compared to 35 percent of Black parents and30 percent of white parents. And,60 percent of Latino parents are concerned about their children spending too much time online.

Latino parents are also more concerned about technology addiction and the impact of technology on their children’s sleep, andcheck their children’s devices and social media accounts more often.

According toMaria Alvarez, director of Latino content and outreach at Common Sense,”Latino parents use more media, are more engaged in children’s media use, and are two to three times more concerned about their children being online.”

Pew Research Center’s 2015 National Survey of Latinos revealed that the long-standing digital divide in Internet use between Latinos and whites is at its narrowest point since 2009.

The percentage of Latinos using the Internet increased from 64 percent in 2009 to 84 percent in 2015. Internet usage by whites increased from 80 percent to 89 percent. Therefore, the gap between Latinos and whites declined from 16 percentage points in 2009 to 5 percentage points in 2015.

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

The vast majority of parents surveyed, 78 percent, believe they are good media use role models for their kids. And parents largely have positive attitudes about the role of technology in supporting their children’s schoolwork and education (94 percent), preparation for 21st-century jobs (89 percent) and acquisition of new skills (88 percent).

However, according to the survey, parents spend an average of more than nine hours with screen media each day. Eighty-two percent of that time (almost eight hours) is devoted to personal screen media activities such as social networking, watching television and video gaming, with the rest used for work.

James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense, said that many of the parents surveyed use entertainment media at the same rate as their children.

“Parents are using media for entertainment just as much as their kids, yet they express concerns about their kids’ media use while also believing that they are good role models for their kids,” Steyer said.

According to study results, Blackparents spend about an hour and a half more with personal screen media (10 hours and 37 minutes) than Latino parents (8 hours and 52 minutes), who spend about two and a half hours more with personal screen media than white parents (6 hours and 38 minutes).

Related Story: Nielsen 2016 Report: Black Millennials Close the Digital Divide

Nielsen’s (No. 41on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) report called “Young, Connected and Black: African American Millennials Are Driving Social Change and Leading Digital Advancement,” foundthat 28 percent of African Americans age 35 and older reported usingsocial networking sites for at least one hour per day, which is two percent higher than the total population in this age group. Ten percent of African Americans age 35 and older said they use social networking sites for at least three hours per day, which is also two percent higher than the total population for that age group.

Some overall key findings of Plugged-In Parents of Tweens and Teens include (Ratio is hours:minutes):

– Social media: 50 percent of parents believe that social media hurts children’s physical activity.

– Internet Use: Parents are “moderately” or “extremely” worried about kids spending too much time online (43 percent), over-sharing personal details (38 percent), accessing online pornography (36 percent) and being exposed to violent images or videos (36 percent).

– Rules: A majority of parents report that mobile devices are not allowed during family meals (78 percent) or bedtime (63 percent).

– Income: Parents from lower-income households spend more time with personal screen media (9:15) than middle-income parents (7:42), who spend more time than higher-income parents (6:41).

– Education: Parents with a high school degree or less spend the most time with personal screen media (9:03), as compared with parents with at least some college (7:41), who spend more time than parents with an undergraduate degree or higher (6:10).

The survey of more than 1,800 parents in the U.S.took place over the course of seven days. The study did not make a distinction of usage during workdays compared to weekends.

The report suggests that when parents are aware of their kids’ online activities, they’re less likely to worry.

“Media can add a lot of value to relationships, education, and development, and parents clearly see the benefits, but if they are concerned about too much media in their kids’ lives, it might be time to reassess their own behavior so that they can truly set the example they want for their kids,” Steyer said.

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