Latino digital divide

Image credit: Pew Internet

Pew Research recently published the results of a survey examining internet use of Latinos and Spanish-dominant Latinos in the United States. Overall, they found that the digital divide that between Latinos and whites is at its narrowest point since 2009, declining from 16% to 5% in 2015.

The share of Latino adults who report using the internet increased by 20% in the past six years, with more than 4 in 5 (84%) Latinos reporting regularly using the internet. However, less than half (46%) of Latinos who access the internet do so through a home broadband connection, a number that has only increased by 1% since 2010. This is where internet use practices of Latinos begin to diverge with those of whites, since almost three-quarters (73%) of white internet users have broadband access at home.

Latino internet users are also among the most likely to use a mobile device to access the internet. Nearly all (94%) of Latino users report using mobile internet devices, a share higher than white internet users (85%). Mobile devices are especially common among younger Latinos, but nearly 3 in 5 (58%) Latinos aged 50-64 and about a third (35%) aged 65 and older report accessing the internet this way. Latino internet users are also twice as likely (23%) as whites (10%) to be “smartphone dependent,” meaning that they do not have home internet access but do use a mobile device to access the internet.

Understanding internet use across different demographics can help libraries provide internet access to every member of their community. For example, knowing that many Latino and Spanish-speaking community members do not have home broadband indicates that they may be dependent on public computers or wireless internet sources, especially older Latinos who do not tend to use smartphones. Creating computer literacy programs that can accommodate Spanish-speakers could help welcome this group to the library and provide a reliable internet source.

For more information about internet use among Latinos, check out the full report here.