Latinos Lag Whites in Tech Use

February 21, 2011

This article is included in these additional categories:

African-American | Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Data-driven | Hispanic | Media & Entertainment | Mobile Phone

pew-technology-race-feb-2011.JPGLatinos are less likely than whites to access the internet, have a home broadband connection or own a cell phone, according to survey findings from the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. Latinos lag behind blacks in home broadband access but have similar rates of internet and cell phone use.

2/3 of Latinos Go Online

While about two-thirds of Latino (65%) and black (66%) adults went online in 2010, more than three-fourths (77%) of white adults did so. In terms of broadband use at home, there is a large gap between Latinos (45%) and whites (65%), and the rate among blacks (52%) is somewhat higher than that of Latinos. Fully 85% of whites owned a cell phone in 2010, compared with 76% of Latinos and 79% of blacks.

Education, Income Disparities Account for Gaps

Pew data indicates that Hispanics, on average, have lower levels of education and earn less than whites. Controlling for these factors, the differences in internet use, home broadband access and cell phone use between Hispanics and whites disappear. In other words, Hispanics and whites who have similar socioeconomic characteristics have similar usage patterns for these technologies.

Hispanics, on average, are also younger than whites. However, even within each age group, Hispanics show lower levels of technology use than do whites.

Hispanic Non-voice Cell Trends Mixed

pew-cell-phone-race-feb-2011.JPGHispanics are less likely than whites to use any non-voice applications on a cell phone (58% vs. 64%), and they are also less likely than whites to send or receive text messages (55% vs. 61%). However, Hispanics and whites are equally likely to access the internet and send or receive email from a cell phone. And Hispanics are more likely than whites to engage in instant messaging (34% vs. 20%).

Compared with blacks, Hispanics are less likely to access the internet (31% vs. 41%) or send or receive email (27% vs. 33%) from a cell phone, but rates of texting and instant messaging are similar for the two groups.

Though they are no more likely than whites to access the internet from a cell phone, Hispanics are more likely to do so in lieu of a home internet connection. Some 6% of Latinos report that they access the internet from a cell phone but have no internet access at home. This rate is the same for blacks, but notably higher than the rate for whites (1%).

While controlling for educational attainment and income erases ethnic differences in internet use, broadband access and cell phone ownership, this is not entirely the case when it comes to the ethnic difference in dependency upon a cell phone for internet access. Pew analysis reveals that controlling for income and education erases the differences for the highly educated and most affluent, but differences still persist for those with no college experience, and those earning less than $50,000 annually.

Other Findings

  • Latinos are significantly less likely than whites to have a home internet connection (55% vs. 75%); this difference persists even if the sample is limited to internet users (85% vs. 96%). The likelihood of having a home internet connection among blacks (58%) does not differ much from that of Hispanics.
  • Among internet users, Hispanics are less likely to have a home broadband connection (69%) than are whites (84%) or blacks (78%).
  • Among cell phone owners, Hispanics are as likely as whites or blacks to utilize at least one of the four non-voice cell phone applications; more than three-fourths (77%) of Hispanics do so, while 75% of whites and 79% of blacks do the same.
  • Hispanic cell phone owners are more likely than white cell phone owners to access the internet (40% vs. 34%), email (36% vs. 31%) or instant message (45% vs. 24%) from their cell phone. Meanwhile, Hispanic cell phone owners are less likely than black cell phone owners to access the internet from their cell phone (40% vs. 51%).

Women, Whites, Wealthy, Young, Educated More Likely to Look Up Health Data

Women, non-Hispanic whites, younger adults, and those with higher levels of education and income are more likely than other demographic groups to gather health information online, according to other recent Pew data. For example, 65% of women but 53% of men look up online health info, and non-Hispanic whites (63%) have a higher rate than African-Americans (47%) or Latinos (45%).

About the Data: This report is based on two national surveys. The first, the Pew Hispanic Center’s 2010 National Survey of Latinos is a nationally representative bilingual telephone survey of 1,375 adults ages 18 and older. Interviews were conducted from Aug. 17 through Sept. 19, 2010. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The second, the Pew Internet and American Life Project’s August 2010 Health Tracking Survey is a national representative telephone survey of 3,001 adults, conducted from Aug. 9 through Sept. 13, 2010.


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