By Nadra Kareem Nittle (America’s Wire)
LOS ANGELES—Krystal Murphy received her first cellphone at age 13 and she used it solely to keep her parents in the loop about her activities. Four years later, her use of the phone has changed dramatically. Now 17, she relies on it to text friends, surf the Internet and send messages on Twitter.
“I’m on my cell all day, every day, as soon as I wake up and until I go to bed,” says the African-American teen from South Los Angeles.
According to a Northwestern University study of youth media consumption, Krystal’s habits are widespread among young people of color. Released in June, “Children, Media and Race: Media Use Among White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian American Children” found that those between ages 8 and 18 use cellphones, television, computers and other electronic devices to consume an average of 13 hours of media content daily. That’s 4-1/2 hours more than their White counterparts.
The study has renewed debate about whether minority youths spend too much time on media consumption and not enough on reading and studying. While some people insist that the disparity in media consumption contributes to the education gap between minority and White youths, others cite it as a positive that can aid a child’s educational growth.
“I think that the results of this study coupled with the other factors that we know influence student performance,” says Sharon Lewis, research director for the Council of the Great City Schools, an advocate for urban public schools and students. “When you combine all of this together, it’s another indication that we need to take extra steps to reach [minority] youth.
“Factors such as health, such as preschool experience, such as a sibling that may not have graduated, such as coming