Nielsen today released a new report examining media consumption among U.S. households that are becoming smaller and more ethnically diverse than ever before. The emerging digital American family is not defined by any single dominant cultural, social, demographic or political point of view. According to the research firm, "The white, two-parent, 'Leave It to Beaver' family unit of the 1950s has evolved into a multilayered, multicultural construct dominated by older, childless households."
However, Nielsen splits American families into two basic groups: One consists of more educated and affluent households with lower divorce rates, where parents spend significant time with their children. The other includes more ethnic and unwed families with fewer kids and higher divorce rates, where parents struggle to find time to spend with children.
Looking more closely at media usage and preferences by demographic factors including income, ethnicity and age, here are some of the study highlights:
*High-income families view less TV but spend more time viewing with kids, using time-shifted media four times more often than low-income households. They're also the heaviest Internet users, with those making $75,000 or more, for example, spending 17% more time online than the average family online.
*For the Hispanic community, mobile serves as a key source of connectivity. Latinos are more likely than the average household to have cell phones with Internet (55%) and video (40%) capabilities and text more than any other race or ethnicity, sending 943 texts per month. But only 62% of Hispanic homes have Internet access compared to 77% of all U.S. homes.
*African-American media habits are TV- and mobile-centric. They own four or more sets per household and spend almost 40% more time watching TV, especially premium cable channels, than the U.S. average. African-Americans also use more mobile voice minutes per month (1,261) than any other group.
*Asian-Americans have the largest appetite for online media, logging 80 hours on the Internet and viewing 3,600 Web pages -- 3.5 times more than any other ethnic group. In particular, they watch YouTube more than any other demographic segment, while white Americans spend time with Facebook more than multicultural users.
The report also noted the well-documented decline in the U.S. marriage rate: the 72% of adults married in 1960 had declined to 52% by 2008. College-educated people have the highest marriage rates, while those with high school education or less have the lowest.