Study: Latino Kids Use Electronic Gadgets More Than Non-Latinos

Education programs change according to the use made of computers and other technologies. (La Opinion File Photo via El Diario La Prensa)

(La Opinion File Photo via El Diario La Prensa)

A new study reveals that Latino children spend more time using the computer and other electronic devices or watching television than non-Latino children.

In addition, the majority of Latino parents believe that smart phones, tablets, and computers have a positive influence on their children’s academic development, helping them to promote reading habits.

The institution that produced the report, the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern University, hopes this data can be used for educational purposes.

“With a deeper knowledge of how Latino families use smart phones and computers, more meaningful educational programs can be created for them,” said Ellen Wartella, the center’s director.

However, Latino families continue to have more difficulty accessing new technology than the rest of the population for economic reasons, according to the study. For example, in the case of tablets, only one out of every three Latino homes can afford them, compared to nearly half of non-Latino families that have at least one.

“If it were up to me, my kids would have iPads, iPhones, and computers, but I can’t afford them,” said Manuel Rodríguez, 47, a father of three school-aged children. He works at a business in Brooklyn that sells bagels. “At the moment I’ve only bought them the computer, which is what they need most for school.”

Sixty-six percent of Latino parents agree that their children need to develop their skills using computers and tablets in order to be successful in life.

“Since I bought the tablet for my daughter, she reads a lot more and has improved in both Spanish and English at school,” said Graciela Rosado, 39, a homemaker who lives in Brooklyn. Her daughter is 11 years old.

The study shows that on average, Latino kids read more than an hour a day (68 minutes), 14 minutes longer than non-Latino children. The parents’ education or level of household income doesn’t affect the time that Latino kids spend reading, either.

At the forefront

Latino children, whose families have electronic devices, television, and computers, use them for longer than kids of the same age in other ethnic groups.  Each day, on average,  they use tablets for 11 minutes more (34 minutes in total), computers 13 minutes longer (35 minutes in all), smart phones 16 minutes more (26 minutes in total) and television 29 minutes longer per day (2 hours in total).

Nearly six out of every ten Latino parents (59 percent) believe that computers help their children to read more.

Seventy-two percent of Latino families have a smart phone, but only 33 percent have an electronic tablet.

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