Digital Divide Narrows: Two-Thirds of African Americans Online

July 10, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

African-American | Financial Services | Media & Entertainment | Pharma & Healthcare | Radio | Television

The digital divide between Black Americans and other groups in America has narrowed, with 68% of African Americans reporting they are online (compared with 71% of all Americans), according to a survey by Yankelovich that was sponsored by Radio One Inc.

Among Black teens, the number of digitally connected is even higher, with 90% reporting they are online. Of all Black Americans, two-thirds say they shop online. Blacks who live in the south are least likely to be online (63%).

These findings are part of the “Black America Survey” of 3,400 African Americans age 13 to 74.

The large-scale study finds strong group identity among Blacks across age and income brackets but also reveals differences in segments among Blacks that should preclude marketers from approaching Black America as a monolithic group.

The study also shows…

  • Blacks are divided evenly on how they liked to be described, with 42% (who are more likely to be affluent) preferring to be called “Black” and 44% preferring “African American.”
  • 70% say they have a plan for their future, 54% say they are optimistic about their future and 60% say “things are getting better for me.”

Regarding Black identity:

  • 56% of those surveyed have “all” or “almost all” Black friends.
  • 30% prefer being around people of the same race.
  • 88% have enormous respect for the opinions of their elders (84% among teens).
  • Though 71% of Blacks overall say they believe they need to stick together to achieve gains for their community, only 54% of teens agree.
  • 24% say they have been personally discriminated against in the past three months.
  • 82% believe it is “important for parents to prepare their children for prejudice.”
  • 67% believe the history of slavery is a key way in which Blacks are different from other groups, but one-third also say too much emphasis is put on the oppression of Blacks.

Concerns among Black Americans:

  • 72% of Blacks say they know how to have fun and 60% think things are getting better for them, but many often feel stressed (33%).
  • Money is the greatest cause of stress (53% ) followed by the well-being of kids (49%) and health (40%).
  • 3 in 10 feel financially secure and 8 in 10 pay their bills each month.
  • 83% have health insurance; a majority (66% of women and 52% of men) have family doctors, and 40% of those online search the internet for health and medical information.
  • 83% describe themselves as Christian, though only 41% go to church at least once a week.
  • 72% want to learn more about how to invest.
  • 50% believe banks and other financial institutions do not understand their needs.
  • Only 8% trust credit card companies.

Relationship with Black media:

  • 84% of households have cable and 81% watch Black TV channels weekly.
  • 87% listen to radio in a typical week (only 16% listen to satellite radio).
  • 64% watch news or read news magazines and 50% watch court shows (compared with 41% for sports and 46% for entertainment).
  • Only 29% agree that the mainstream media portrays Blacks in a positive light, compared with 50% who do not relate to the way Blacks are portrayed on most Black TV shows.
  • 40% think Black TV is reinforcing a negative stereotype of Blacks.

Black American demographics:

  • The average household has three people in it; half of Black Americans live in a single-family home, one-third in apartments, one-third in the suburbs and half in cities.
  • Among 29-74-year-olds, one-third are married.
  • 61% of Black Americans are parents, including 5% of 13-17-year-olds.
  • Half of all Black parents are single parents.
  • 34% who are 18 or older have some college or a two-year degree, 21% have a BA or higher, 40% have an annual income under $25,000 (20% of whom are retired), and one-third have incomes more than $50,000.

“While people are less inclined these days to think that all Blacks are the same, they really do not understand the diversity within the African-American community, ” Catherine Hughes, Radio One Founder and Chairperson of the Board, said.

“Blacks share many commonalities regardless of age, income and geography, but there are also differences that suggest a new understanding of the past and a more optimistic sense of the future.”


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