Expert Commentary

Hispanics trail other groups in Web usage, confidence

2011 poll by the Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health on Internet usage among Latinos.

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

About The Author