African-Americans are still less likely than whites to have Internet access, but are on a more equal footing when it comes to going online through mobile platforms. That’s among the main
findings of a new study of technology use among African-Americans
by the Pew Research Center’s
Internet & American Life Project.
The report, the first in a series of snapshots of technology use among different groups, suggests the so-called digital divide has as much to do,
if not more, with socioeconomic status and age as race. Blacks overall trail whites by seven percentage points in overall Internet use (87% versus 80%), and by 12 points in home broadband adoption
(74% versus 62%).
But the gap between the races is more pronounced in certain demographic segments -- specifically older African-Americans and those who haven’t attended
college. Only 35% of blacks 65+ are Internet users, and 30% have broadband at home, for example, compared to 63%, and 51%, respectively, among whites.
However, young, college-educated
and higher-income African Americans are as likely as their white counterparts to be plugged in. Some 86% of blacks 18-29 are home broadband users, as are 88% of black college graduates and 91% of
those with an annual household income of $75,000 or more per year.
“These figures are well above the national average for broadband adoption, and are identical to whites of
similar ages, incomes and education levels,” stated the Pew report, released Monday.
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of African-American users go to a social-networking site of some
kind, and 96% of those 18-29. Twitter is especially popular with younger African-Americans, with 40% using the microblogging service compared to 28% of whites ages 18-29. Overall, 22% of online blacks
use Twitter compared to 16% of whites.
In contrast to Internet adoption, blacks and whites are equally likely to own a cell phone or a smartphone. More than nine in 10 blacks (92%)
own a mobile phone, and 56% have a smartphone. Among older African-Americans, cell use is much more common than Internet access, at 77% versus 45%. But only 18% are smartphone owners.
Overall, 72% of African-Americans -- and 98% of those between 18 and 29 -- have either a broadband connection or a smartphone.
The Pew survey was based on data collected from
telephone interviews conducted from July 18 to Sept. 30 among a sample of 6,010 U.S. adults, including 664 who identify as African-American. Phone interviews were done in English and Spanish by
landline and cell phone."African American Texting" photo from Shutterstock.