Digital Divide 2.0: Engaging Hispanic Youth
A recent New York Times article, “Wasting Time Is New Divide in Digital Era,” cited two compelling statistics: Children and teenagers whose parents lack
a college degree spent 90 minutes more per day exposed to media than children from higher socioeconomic families, and they spend 11.5 hours each day exposed to media from a variety of sources, including television.
The number is even more striking for Hispanic youth, who spend 13 hours per day consuming media compared with just less than 8.5 hours per day for white youth. For Hispanic youth, especially, the gap is no longer centered on access. It’s about participation and engagement as well.
The pivotal question is, will we arm the nation’s largest and fastest growing minority with the tools to thrive in a digital era? The answer is in the same technology that divides us: By tailoring content, we can help families better leverage technology for learning and for life.
To help address the issue, the National Center for Family Literacy convened the first Hispanic-Latino Families Digital Technologies Forum last Friday in partnership with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and the National Council of La Raza. The nation’s leading scholars on digital media, learning, and family life, as well as practitioners, policymakers, and philanthropists began the process of developing national initiatives to accelerate the growing use of technologies among Hispanic-Latino families with young children.
Several factors and priorities emerged from the forum, including
- Digital literacy is key to digital equity.
- Programming and content must be tailored for cultural and generational variations and to meet individual learners’ needs.
- Intergenerational participation is important to help parents understand the opportunities of technology and manage the threats.
Used effectively, technology leads to engagement for the entire family. But we must make it relevant to families. Only then will we bridge the digital divide.
Emily Kirkpatrick is vice president for the National Center for Family Literacy. Visit www.famlit.org for free tools for your literacy programs and for training.