Minorities are increasingly using smart phones to join the Internet age, suggesting government broadband programs designed to connect computers to the Web may become obsolete before they roll out.
According to a Pew Hispanic Study released in late December, “Latinos and African Americans are more likely to access the Internet using wireless technology such as a cell phone, Blackberry, or iPhone” than with a home computer.
More Economical for Consumer
The increase in minorities’ smart phone use is a result of them being more economical than retaining both a computer and home telephone connection, according to the study titled “Latinos Online, 2006-2008: Narrowing the Gap.”
The ease of social networking on mobile phones and the proliferation of GPS technology and easy text and voice communication to places such as Mexico and El Salvador have also helped the devices grow among Hispanics.
Bridging the Gap
Meanwhile, according to Pew’s Home Broadband 2009 report from April, African-Americans were 70 percent more likely than whites to access the Internet via a handheld device.
Bobby A. Derrick, a field representative for the Alexandria, Virginia-based Association of Government Accountants and former president of the Defense Finance Accounting Service, says it’s significant that market forces are bridging the digital divide.
“I embrace technology and encourage its proper use to benefit mankind,” Derrick said. “It can provide efficiencies and cost-reductions and speed communication. I believe that emerging wireless technologies will revolutionize the world.”
Mobile Use Spikes
Approximately one-third of U.S. residents have accessed the Internet via handheld electronics, according to the Pew Hispanic Center study. Handheld use among English-speaking Hispanics jumped by nine percentage points, to 47 percent in 2009 from 38 percent in 2007.
Krystle Russin ([email protected]) writes from Texas.
“Latinos Online, 2006-2008: Narrowing the Gap,” Gretchen Livingston, Kim Parker, and Susannah Fox, Pew Hispanic Center, December 22, 2009: http://www.heartland.org/custom/semod_policybot/pdf/26632.pdf
“Home Broadband Adoption 2009,” John Horrigan, Pew Internet and American Life Project, June 2009: http://www.heartland.org/custom/semod_policybot/pdf/26633.pdf