Young Latinos Use Mobile Communication

July 29, 2010

When it comes to socializing and communicating with friends, young Latinos (ages 16 to 25) make extensive use of mobile technology, according to new data from the Pew Hispanic Center.

Half of Young Latinos Text Daily
Half of young Latinos say they text message (50%) their friends daily, and 45% say they talk daily with friends on a cell phone. Other communication platforms are less widely used for socializing. For example, fewer than one-in-five young Latinos (18%) say they talk daily with their friends on a landline or home phone, and just 10% say they email their friends daily.

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Native-born More Likely to Use Mobile Tech
Use of mobile communication technologies differs notably among young Latinos by nativity. Two-thirds (65%) of the native born say they communicate with their friends by text message daily, while just 26% of the foreign born do so. And more than half (55%) of the native born talk daily by cell phone with their friends, while just 29% of the foreign born say they do the same.

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Pew Hispanic Center analysis suggests these differences are explained in part by the fact that the native born are more likely than the foreign born to have a cell phone in the first place. Overall, eight in 10 (79%) of young Latinos say they use a cell phone, with use greater among the native born than the foreign born (84% vs. 70%).

Non-Hispanic Youth Use More Mobile Tech
Even though text messaging and cell phone calls are the most widely used mediums of social communication among young Latinos, they use these platforms less extensively than do their non-Latino counterparts. Among 16- and 17-year-olds, about half (49%) of Hispanics text daily, compared with 64% of non-Hispanics.

When it comes to talking with friends daily via cell phone, there is less of a difference; 44% of Hispanics say they do, compared with half (51%) of non-Hispanics who say the same.

Other Findings

  • While 68% of English-dominant and half (50%) of bilingual young Latinos use text messaging daily for communication, just 19% of Spanish-dominant young Latinos do the same.
  • Young Hispanic males are less likely than young Hispanic females to use social networking sites for communication, 19% vs. 27%. In contrast, young female Hispanics are less likely than young Hispanic males to communicate face-to-face outside school or work with their friends, 15% vs. 26%.
  • Hispanics ages 16 to 25 are more likely than Hispanics ages 26 and older to use mobile technologies to communicate with their friends. While half (50%) of young Latinos use texting to communicate, just 21% of older Latinos do the same.
  • Among those ages 16 to 17, Latino youths are less likely than non-Latino youths to communicate daily via a landline or home phone with their friends, 13% vs. 32%.

Youth More Mobile
Young adults across all ethnicities engage in mobile data applications at much higher rates than adults in age brackets 30 and older, according to recent data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Nine in 10 18-to-29 year olds own a cell phone, and these young cell owners are significantly more likely than those in other age groups to engage in all of the mobile data applications Pew asked about in its survey.

About the Data: Results for this study are based on telephone interviews conducted by Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS), an independent research company, among a nationally representative sample of 2,012 Latino respondents ages 16 and older, from Aug. 5 to Sept. 16, 2009. Interviews were conducted with 1,240 respondents ages 16 to 25 and 772 respondents ages 26 and older.

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