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The racial divide in Internet devices

A Pew Internet report says that while 56% of Americans have accessed the Internet wirelessly, there’s a stark racial divide in the devices we use. About half of the African-American and English-speaking Hispanic population accesses the Net through cellphones and other handheld devices, but only 28% of white Americans have ever done so.

Three bullet points quoted from the report:

* 48% of Africans Americans have at one time used their mobile device to access the internet for information, emailing, or instant-messaging, half again the national average of 32%.

* 29% of African Americans use the internet on their handheld on an average day, also about half again the national average of 19%.

* Compared with 2007, when 12% of African Americans used the internet on their mobile on the average day, use of the mobile internet is up by 141%.

We can read this in many different ways:

  • Mobiles are helping to end the digital racial divide

  • Mobiles are extending the digital racial divide by providing second-class Net access to African Americans

  • For a far greater percentage of African Americans than white Americans, the Net is less generative and participatory

  • We’d better make sure that the carriers become device independent and Net neutral

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5 Responses to “The racial divide in Internet devices”

  1. David, could you elaborate on your third facet?
    Are you thinking that the hardware with which the non-white populace is accessing the net is less likely to be generative, morel likely to be tethered/ crippled whereas since white Americans aren’t using these things, (phones, etc.) they are probably using actual computers, which are less likely to be tethered, more likely to be generative?

    I guess I’d also like to see % of each racial group who access the net at all.

  2. Adam, your elaboration is indeed what I had in mind. Little screens, slow processors, itsy keyboards…

  3. [...] Interesting report, which makes me more intent than ever on finding ways to experience the Net with simply a phone. I’m signing off now for the next week, and will be in Wyoming hiking with my sisters. [...]

  4. I’m a caucanglo and I use both platforms but I gotta tell ya that it’s mainly because Apple refuses to come out with the iNewton (iNetwon) / Kindle / Media Pad / Axiotron ModBook thingie with VOIP and speech rec built in at an affordable price — at least I think so at this point.

    FYI: http://mobileactive.org and http://mobileactive.org/blog

  5. “A Pew Internet report says that while 56% of Americans have accessed the Internet wirelessly, there’s a stark racial divide in the devices we use. About half of the African-American and English-speaking Hispanic population accesses the Net through cellphones and other handheld devices, but only 28% of white Americans have ever done so.”

    Speaking of that Pew Research report, a representative of Pew just discussed its findings in a recent podcast about changing online demographics.

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