Latinos and Digital Technology
In data from 2010, the Pew Hispanic Center found that 45% of Hispanic-Latino households have broadband Internet access, compared to 65% of non-Hispanic White and 52% of non-Hispanic Black homes (Livingstone, 2011). Pertaining to cell phone ownership, 76% of Hispanic-Latino adults own a cell phone, while 79% of Blacks and 85% of Whites report having one. These access gaps seem to be closing and some analyses suggest the differences disappear once education and income are controlled (Livingston, 2011; Zickuhr & Smith, 2012).
Furthermore, Hispanic-Latino adults are more likely to use cell phones to access the Internet, in lieu of home broadband access (6% of Hispanics, 6% for Blacks, 1% for Whites), and are also more likely to use a cell phone for non-voice related activities, particularly in comparison to Whites (Livingston, 2011; Zickuhr & Smith, 2012, p 21). Notably, Pew Internet & American Life polls indicate that Hispanic-Latino adults own smartphones and tablet computers at a higher or equal rate to White and Black non-Hispanic adults (Rainie, 2012; Zickuhr & Smith, 2012).
Other key findings include: Ethnicity
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 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. However, 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%).
Native-born Latinos are more likely than foreign-born Latinos to be online (81% vs. 54%); to have a home internet connection (71% vs. 45%); to have a home broadband connection (60% vs. 35%); and to own a cell phone (86% vs. 70%). From 2009 to 2010, cell phone ownership among the native born increased six percentage points (from 80% to 86%). This increase was driven primarily by increased cell phone ownership among Latinos who are the children of immigrants, or the so-called second generation (from 79% to 88%). The native born are more likely than the foreign born to use non-voice applications on a cell phone—74% vs. 48%.
Spanish-dominant Hispanics trail bilingual and English-dominant Hispanics in internet use, home internet access, home broadband access and cell phone ownership. Some 47% of Spanish-dominant Latinos use the internet, compared with 74% of bilingual Latinos and 81% of English-dominant Latinos. Some 37% of Spanish-dominant Latinos have a home internet connection, compared with 61% of bilingual Latinos and 77% of English-dominant Latinos. About one-fourth (26%) of Spanish-dominant Latinos have home broadband access, compared with about half (52%) of bilingual Latinos, and two-thirds (66%) of English-dominant Latinos. Some 68% of Spanish-dominant Hispanics have a cell phone, compared with 78% of bilingual Hispanics and 86% of English-dominant Hispanics. While the overall internet usage rate among Spanish-dominant Latinos remains low, the share using the internet has increased rapidly—from 36% in 2009 to 47% in 2010. More than three-fourths (76%) of English-dominant Latinos use cell phones for something other than traditional calls, while 62% of bilingual Latinos and 44% of Spanish-dominant Latinos report as much.
Among Latinos, internet use, home internet use, home broadband access, and cell phone ownership are less prevalent at older ages. From 2009 to 2010, the share of Latinos ages 18 to 29 who were online jumped from 75% to 85%, and the share with cell phones rose from 81% to 90%. The likelihood of using any type of non-voice cell phone application declines with age for Latinos.
Education and Income
Among Hispanics, higher levels of educational attainment and household income are linked to higher rates of internet use, home internet access, having a home broadband connection, and cell phone ownership. The same is true when looking at non-voice cell phone applications—Hispanics with more education and more income are generally more likely to use these mobile applications.
Place of Residence
Rates of internet use, home internet access and broadband access are similar for Latinos living in urban, suburban and rural areas. Cell phone ownership is significantly less prevalent in suburban areas than in urban or rural areas.