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Mobile ‘Net: Doesnt Matter If Youre Black or White

An interesting new study from Pew Research shows the so-called “digital divide” between black and white Americans might be shrinking, at least in terms of how we use mobile devices to access the Internet.

The research shows African-Americans are the most active users of the mobile Internet and their use of it is also growing the fastest. Look at these numbers:

  • Forty-eight percent of African-Americans have at one time used their mobile device to access the Internet for information, e-mailing or instant messaging, half again the national average of 32 percent.
  • Twenty-nine percent of African-Americans use the Internet on their handheld on an average day, also about half again the national average of 19 percent.
  • Compared with 2007, when 12 percent of African-Americans used the Internet on their mobile on the average day, use of the mobile internet is up by 141 percent.

These numbers offset ways blacks have traditionally not gone online as much as whites. We’re talking about more traditional, more expensive devices, such as the laptop or desktop computer. For example:

  • By a 59 percent to 45 percent margin, white Americans are more likely to go online using a computer on a typical day than African Americans.
  • When mobile devices are included in the mix, the gap is cut in half; 61 percent of whites go online on the average day when mobile access is included while 54 percent of African-Americans do.
  • Looking across a range of digital activities – some done online typically using a computer and others being non-voice data activities on a mobile device – African-American and white Americans, on average, do the same number of activities.

Overall, 32 percent of Americans in the April 2009 study said, at least once, they have used the Internet on their mobile device.


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