Hispanics technology adoption rates vary according to language and country

By March 21, 2013
hispanic dad and his son on a laptop

The discrepancy between different minority groups’ Internet usage and device ownership is lessening. But within the diverse Latino community, some individuals are much more connected than others.


Latinos have similar or higher rates of tech adoption than other groups of Americans, but within the Latino community the digital divide still exists. The Closing the Digital Divide Report, based on 3 Pew Research Center surveys, showed that Latino adults who go online increased from 64 percent in 2009 to 78 percent in 2012. Internet usage among whites increased, but not as sharply, from 80 to 87 percent during the same time period. Mobile devices have higher ownership rates for minorities: 86 percent of Latinos, 90 percent of blacks and 84 percent of whites own a cellphone; 49 percent of Latinos, 50 percent of blacks, and 46 percent of whites own smartphones.

Habits of Internet usage vary on language and country of origin

But though more Latinos are more connected through more devices than ever before, adoption is not evenly distributed. Within the Latino community, technology usages vary widely depending on whether they were born in the US or in another country, and their English fluency. Half of Hispanics who use the Internet are native born, half are foreign born. Of these Internet users, 72 percent are English- dominant (31 percent) or bilingual (41 percent), 28 percent are Spanish-dominant. But among those who do not use the Internet, 21 percent are US born and 79 percent are foreign born. Of non-users, 42 percent are English-dominant (13 percent) or bilingual (29 percent), and 58 percent are Spanish-dominant.

The same factor dictate device adoption and ownership

Just as the demographics of Hispanic Internet users are complex, mobile and other device ownership varies on these same parameters of country of birth and language. Foreign-born and Spanish-dominant Hispanics own fewer cellphones, smartphones, and computers than their native born and English-fluent counterparts. Of non-cellphone owners, 76 percent are foreign-born and 24 percent are native-born. Smartphone owners are more often native-born as well (54 percent), and non-smartphone owners are more often foreign born (58 percent). An even wider discrepancy occurs when comparing computer owners: 73 percent of non-owners are foreign born, while only 50 percent of Hispanic owners are foreign born.


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