The Latino Digital Divide: The Native Born versus The Foreign Born

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patterns of digital media access differ among Hispanic-Latino adults based on US nativity. In particular, those born in the US are more likely to have a cell phone, go online, have a home Internet connection, and for that Internet connection to be broadband (Livingston, 2011).

Technology use among foreign-born Latinos continues to lag significantly behind that of their U.S.-born counterparts, according to a new analysis of survey data from the Pew Hispanic Center. The nativity differences are especially pronounced when it comes to internet use. While 85% of native-born Latinos ages 16 and older go online, only about half (51%) of foreign-born Latinos do so.1 When it comes to cell phones, 80% of native-born Latinos use one, compared with 72% of the foreign born.

Latinos are the largest minority group and largest immigrant group in the United States. Overall, they comprise 15.4% of the total U.S. population. Among Latinos ages 16 and older, 56% are foreign born and 44% were born in the U.S.2

While rates of technology use among native-born Hispanics are relatively high, technology use for the full population of Hispanics continues to lag behind the use rates of the non-Hispanic population. When it comes to internet use, some 64% of Latinos ages 18 and older go online,3 compared with 78% of non-Latinos. More than three-fourths (76%) of Latinos use a cell phone, compared with 86% of non-Latinos.4

Among youths ages 16 to 25, non-Hispanics are approaching near-universal internet use, but the rate is markedly lower for Hispanics.5 Some 95% of non-Hispanics ages 16 and 17 go online, as do 96% of those ages 18 to 25; for Hispanics ages 16 to 25, the internet use rate is 77%. The ethnic gap in cell phone use is less pronounced, though still significant. Some 82% of non-Hispanics ages 16 to 17 use a cell phone, compared with 72% of Hispanics. Among those ages 18 to 25, 94% of non-Hispanics use a cell phone, compared with eight-in-ten (80%) Hispanics.