Saturday, July 20, 2024

Latino Involvement In The Digital World Is Increasing


A new study from the Pew Research Center found that, after years of lagging behind other ethnic groups when it comes to accessing the Internet, the percentage of Latino adults who report using the Internet increased from 64 percent to 84 percent between 2009 and 2015, a faster growth rate than that of whites going online in the same period (80 percent to 89 percent).

Pew researcher Mark Hugo Lopez says these findings aren’t necessarily surprising; they’re reflective of larger trends. There are more than 55 million Hispanics in the U.S. today, and the nation’s Hispanic residents are the fastest growing population group — and youngest — in the country. The implications of the study, however, push back at perceptions of who we tend to think of as fluent Internet users. “That story is changing,” says Lopez. “And that’s based on the diversity of the Latino community.”

Lopez says Latinos are more likely to live in homes where their only means of getting online is through a mobile phone with Internet access. According to the study, the share of Hispanic adults accessing the Internet through a home broadband connection increased by just one percent since 2010, to 46 percent. Meanwhile, 55 percent of blacks and 73 percent of whites accessed the Internet through a home broadband connection in 2015.

Therefore, Latinos tend to access the Internet through mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. In fact, according to Pew, Latinos have been “among the most likely to own a smartphone, to live in a household without a landline phone and where only a cellphone is available, and to access the Internet through a mobile device.” When it comes to accessing the Internet through a mobile device, Latinos actually browse the web on their phones at slightly higher rates than Caucasians and African Americans.

A 2015 Pew study — while not focused specifically on the Latino community — found that the cost of owning a computer and subscribing to a broadband connection at home continues to be a “substantial challenge” and barrier for those who aren’t accessing the Internet. Because of this, Lopez says Latinos are often choosing “between one or the other” — a mobile phone or a computer.