A Pew Hispanic Center report released last week not only shows that in 2010 Latinos had lower rates of Internet use and broadband access when compared with whites but that income, education, and language also mark digital disparities among Hispanics.
According to the report:
In 2010, almost two-thirds (65%) of Hispanics were online, a rate comparable to that of blacks (66%) and significantly lower than the rate for whites (77%).
More than half (55%) of all Hispanics report that they use the internet in their home. This is similar to the rate for blacks (58%) but significantly lower than the rate for whites (75%).
The report also states that about 45 percent of Latinos have a home broadband connection, compared with 65 percent of whites. Latinos also lag behind blacks, 52 percent of whom have a home broadband connection.
Latinos with less education and lower incomes have less broadband access. But where Hispanics are born and whether they speak English or Spanish also explains the lack of broadband access.
About 60 percent of native-born Hispanics have a home broadband connection, while among the foreign-born, this share is 35 percent. And only about one-fourth of Latinos who are Spanish-dominant are likely to have a home broadband connection. In comparison, about 65 percent of English-dominant Latinos and 52 percent of bilingual Latinos report a home broadband connection.
The Hispanic Center report indicates that “in 2010, some three-fourths of Hispanic adults were using cell phones—a rate similar to the rate for blacks (79%), and markedly lower than the rate among whites (85%).”
Disparities in cell phone use also persist between foreign-born and U.S.-born Latinos, and Spanish-dominant, bilingual and English-dominant Hispanics.
Jennifer Lubriani, senior program manager for Latinos in Social Media, told The Florida Independent that the Pew Hispanic Center report reflects the fact that there is another segment of Latinos “that we are not reaching out to” and that Latinos who are engaged online “can help do away with these educational and income disparities.”
“We’ve heard reports that over half of Latinos are online, but this report shows we might be reaching the higher-educated and more wealthy Hispanics, who tend to be bilingual,” Lubriani said, “but in my area of health communication I really need to reach out to the low-income Spanish-dominant and they are not necessarily online.”
She said it is critical to address the low rates of home broadband access, and concluded it is important for Latino civic engagement and consumer power to change “the way we are seeing these Hispanics because we are missing the ones that need the most help.”
Anna Gomez, deputy assistant secretary for communications and information for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, wrote last week that the digital divide is still a serious issue for Latinos.
“In fact, NTIA’s research shows that even after adjusting for income and other socioeconomic characteristics, Latino households lag White households in broadband adoption by 14 percentage points,” Gomez wrote.
According to the Federal Communication Commission, broadband helps users access resources such as library and museum databases and collections, online college or university courses, and continuing or senior education programs.
The federal government’s National Broadband Plan states:
Like electricity a century ago, broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness, and a better way of life. It is enabling entire new industries and unlocking vast new possibilities for existing ones. It is changing how we educate children, deliver health care, manage energy, ensure public safety, engage government, and access, organize and disseminate knowledge.