Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

In U.S., Smartphones Are Helping Minorities Leapfrog Over the Digital Divide

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, July 11 2011

There's more evidence of smartphone usage in the United States enabling a kind of "leapfrog effect" over the digital divide. According to a new report by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American LIfe Project, 44 percent of African Americans and Hispanics say they own a smartphone, compared to just 30 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

That said, class and education levels are also strongly related to smartphone ownership, with just 22% of people making less than $30K/yr saying they own one, compared to about 40% of people between $30K-$75K, and nearly 60 percent of people making more than $75K. The younger you are, though, the more likely you use a smartphone--even among people making less than $30K a year, 39% of those who are 18-29 years old say the have one. Older seniors, by contrast, are less likely, and poorer older seniors especially unlikely, to own a smartphone.

The reason why I refer to a leapfrog effect is that compared to owning a PC and paying for home broadband, a smartphone with an internet-worthy data plan costs much less. And nearly nine in ten smartphone owners say they use their phone to access email or the internet, with almost eight in ten doing so daily. Blacks and Hispanics do these things at slightly higher rates than white smartphone owners, Pew found. While many smartphone owners also have a broadband connection at home, not all of them do (just 68%, Pew found). Among the quarter of smartphone owners who mostly or only go online using their phone, blacks and Hispanics were twice as likely as whites to do so (38% to 17%).

The Android platform is the favorite of minorities, the survey found, while whites (especially the more affluent ones) tend to favor iPhones and Blackberries.

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

First POST: Responding

The aftermath of Ferguson continues to reverberate; how one Senate campaign took advantage of Facebook's micro-targeting tools; the new Congress' tech agenda; and much, much more GO

tuesday >

First POST: Sad Reality

How social media changed the course of the Ferguson story; Ready for Hillary's 3-million-member email list; why Mark Cuban opposes net neutrality rules; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: All Against All

Why Uber isn't "the future" of cities; why journalists lost control of journalism; how Sean Parker is spending his political money; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Power Frames

The differences between "old power" and "new power"; Uber as a new/old power hybrid; debating Clay Shirky's feminist cred; and much, much more. GO

More