Internet, Race

Hispanics trail other groups in Web usage, confidence

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Last updated: March 31, 2011

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In an increasingly digital economy, those who keep pace with technology will have an advantage in the job market, as the 21st century workforce draws more on tools such as file-sharing, video conferencing and social networking.

A 2011 telephone poll conducted by the Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health, “The Digital Divide: Hispanics Trail Other Groups in Web Usage, Confidence,” investigated the Internet usage and confidence rates among Hispanics as compared with other groups. The poll used a random national sample of 1,959 adults.

The poll’s results include:

  • Among Hispanics, 72% say they use the Internet at least occasionally, lower than the percentages of whites (87%) and blacks (80%).
  • In terms of confidence, 57% of Hispanics say they don’t have enough knowledge about computers to be competitive in the current job environment, compared with only 46% of whites and 45% of blacks who feel the same level of insecurity.
  • A language divide exists for the Hispanic population, with 88% who were polled in English saying they use the Internet or e-mail compared only 53% of those who were polled in Spanish.
  • The trends may be changing across generational lines. Among Hispanics age 18 to 34, 87% are regularly online, compared with 37% for those above 60.

Although the causes of this divide are not explicit, another finding of the study indicates that economic factors play a role. The poll showed that more Hispanics can only get online through smart phones, while whites and blacks more frequently have a choice between a smart phone and a home computer, which typically offers a great variety of Internet applications and experiences.

Tags: technology, Hispanic, Latino, consumer affairs


Writer: | March 31, 2011

Citation: Kang, Cecilia,; et al. "The Digital Divide: Hispanics Trail Other Groups in Web Usage, Confidence," Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health study, Washington Post, article, February, 2011.

Analysis assignments

Read the Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health study "The Digital Divide: Hispanics Trail Other Groups in Web Usage, Confidence. "

  1. Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
  2. Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
  3. Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)

Read the issue-related Associated Press/USA Today article "For Minorities, New ‘Digital Divide’ Seen."

  1. If you were to rewrite the article based on knowledge of the study, what key changes would you make?

Newswriting assignments

  1. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
  2. Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
  3. Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
  4. Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.

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