Closing the Digital Divide: Latinos and Technology Adoption
The report, “Closing the Digital Divide: Latinos and Technology Adoption,” was written by Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center; Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, research associate with the Pew Hispanic Center; and Eileen Patten, research assistant with the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project.
The data used in this report are derived primarily from the Pew Hispanic Center’s 2012 National Survey of Latinos (NSL) ( Pew Hispanic survey), which was conducted from Sept. 7 through Oct. 4, 2012, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia among a randomly selected, nationally representative sample of 1,765 Latino adults.
Data from two other surveys is also used.
The Pew report examines 2012 social media, digital technology, and mobile technology use among Latinos, whites, and blacks. The report also identifies these trends by income, education, age, education, urbanity, place of birth (foreign or domestic), and language dominance.
Going online on the rise
The share of Latino adults who go online has been on the rise. According to the Pew Hispanic Center survey, more than three-in- four (78%) Latinos say they use the internet or send or receive email at least occasionally. This is up 14 percentage points since 2009, when 64% said they at least occasionally went online.
However, income and educational attainment matter.
Educational attainment is also linked to going online. More than four- in-ten (42%) Latino internet users have some college experience. By comparison, just 15% of non-internet users have some college experience.
Similarly, annual family income is correlated with going online. Fewer than half (46%) of Hispanic internet users have annual family incomes below $30,000. By contrast, nearly two- thirds (64%) of non-internet users have annual family incomes below $30,000.
Accessing the Internet Through a Mobile Device
Three-in-four (76%) Hispanic internet users say they access the internet on a cellphone, tablet or other mobile handheld device at least occasionally, according to the Pew Hispanic survey.
Other Key findings from the report
- Latinos are online and mobile: Latino internet users are more likely than white internet users to say they go online using a mobile device – 76% versus 60%. Three-in-four (76%) Latino internet users say they access the internet on a cell phone, tablet, or other mobile handheld device at least occasionally. The number rises to 87% for Latinos ages 18-29 years old.
- Latinos use social media: Fully 84% of Latino internet users ages 18-29 say they use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Among Latinos who use social networking sites, 60% say they do mostly or only in English, 29% say they do mostly or only in Spanish, and 11% say they use both English and Spanish.
- Latinos use the internet including social networking sites in English, but many also use them in Spanish: Among Latino internet users, 72% are either English dominant (31%) or bilingual (41%), and 28% are Spanish dominant.
- Cellphone Ownership: Fully 86% of Latinos say they own a cellphone, a share similar to that of whites (84%) and blacks (90%). Among Latinos who do not own cellphones, 76% are foreign born and 24% are native born.
- Smartphone Ownership: Among adults, Latinos (49%) are just as likely as whites (46%) or blacks (50%) to own a smartphone.
- Going Online from a Mobile Device: Latino internet users are more likely than white internet users to say they go online using a mobile device (76% versus 60%). Black internet users are equally as likely as Latinos to access the internet from a mobile device.
- Social Networking: Among internet users, similar shares of Latinos (68%), whites (66%) and blacks (69%) say they use social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook at least occasionally. Among Latinos who use social networking sites, 60% say they do so mostly or only in English, 29% say they do so mostly or only in Spanish and 11% say they use English and Spanish equally.
- Computer Ownership: Some 72% of Latinos say they own a desktop or laptop computer, compared with 83% of whites. Among blacks, 70% are computer owners. Half of Hispanic computer owners are foreign born. By comparison, 73% of Hispanics who do not own a computer are foreign born.
- Internet Use: Nearly eight-in-ten (78%) Latino adults go online at least occasionally, compared with 87% of whites and 78% of blacks. Half (50%) of Hispanic internet users are native born and half are foreign born.
The analysis also finds that when it comes to using the internet, the digital divide between Latinos and whites is smaller than what it had been just a few years ago. Between 2009 and 2012, the share of Latino adults who say they go online at least occasionally increased from 64% to 78%. Among whites, internet use rates also increased, but only by half as much (80% in 2009 to 87% in 2012).
- Over the same period, the gap in cellphone ownership between Latinos and other groups either diminished or disappeared. In 2012, 86% of Latinos said they owned a cellphone, up from 76% in 2009.
Spikes in technology adoption among foreign-born Latinos and Spanish-dominant Latinos. Both groups’ rates of going online and of owning cellphones increased sharply since 2009, helping to reduce the digital divide between Latinos and whites and also reducing gaps within the Latino community itself.
Latinos own smartphones, go online from a mobile device and use social networking sites at similar, and sometimes higher, rates than do other groups of Americans, according to a new analysis of three Pew Research Center surveys.
Using Social Networking Sites
- Fully 84% of Latino internet users ages 18 to 29 say they use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the highest rate among Latinos.
- Just 27% of Hispanic internet users ages 65 and older say they use social networking sites.
- Some 54% of Latinos who use social media are U.S. born. By contrast, foreign-born Latinos make up the majority (57%) of Latino internet users who do not use social media.
- Among Latinos who use social networking sites, 60% say they do so mostly or only in English, 29% say they do so mostly or only in Spanish and 11% say they use both English and Spanish equally.
Latino social media users are also more likely than Latinos who do not use social media to be English dominant—34% versus 23%. On the flipside, Latino social media users are less likely than those who do not use social media to be Spanish dominant—25% versus 34%.
Educational attainment is also correlated with social media use. Among Hispanic internet users who use social networking sites, 44% have some college experience.
English is the language most used among Hispanics who use social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. According to the Pew Hispanic survey, most Hispanic social media users (60%) say they mostly or only use English. An additional 29% say that when they use social networking sites, they do so only or mostly in Spanish. And 11% say they use both English and Spanish equally when using social networking sites.