Latinos comprise 14 percent of the U.S. adult population and about half of this group (56 percent) goes online.
These were some key findings in a new report issued by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Internet & American Life Project titled “Latinos Online.” The report, written by Susannah Fox and Gretchen Livingston, is based on telephone surveys of 6,016 Latino adults conducted in Spanish and English from June 2006 to October 2006.
“For many people living in the U.S., the Internet is the go-to source for information and for staying in touch with friends and family,” said Ms. Fox, an associate director at the Pew Internet Project. “But we find that significant portions of the population are cut off from online resources. Only about one-third of Hispanics who have not completed high school and one-third of Latinos who do not speak and read English go online.”
Ms. Livingston, a research associate at the Pew Hispanic Center, said the balance among Latinos could swing within a few generations.
“The sons and daughters of immigrants are flocking online – eight out of 10 second-generation Latinos have access to the Internet,” she said.
By comparison, 71 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 60 percent of non-Hispanic blacks use the Internet. Several socio-economic characteristics that are often intertwined, such as low levels of education and limited English ability, largely explain the gap in Internet use between Hispanics and non-Hispanics, the report said.
Other findings from the report include:
• 78 percent of Latinos who are English-dominant and 76 percent of bilingual Latinos use the Internet, compared with 32 percent of Spanish-dominant Hispanic adults.
• 76 percent of U.S.-born Latinos go online, compared with 43 percent of those born outside the U.S. Some of this is related to language, but analysis shows that being born outside of the 50 states is an independent factor that is associated with a decreased likelihood of going online.
• 89 percent of Latinos who have a college degree versus 70 percent of Latinos who completed high school go online. Only 31 percent of Latinos who did not complete high school use the Internet.
• Mexicans are the largest national origin group in the U.S. Latino population and are among the least likely groups to go online: 52 percent of Latinos of Mexican descent use the Internet. Even when age, income, language, generation or country of origin is held constant, having Mexican descent is associated with a decreased likelihood of going online.
The Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Internet & American Life Project are nonprofit initiatives of the Pew Research Center and are funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The Pew Hispanic Center’s mission is to improve understanding of the U.S. Hispanic population and to chronicle Latinos’ growing impact on the nation. The Pew Internet & American Life Project examines the social impact of the Internet. Projects of the Pew Research Center do not advocate for or take positions on policy issues.
Some Latinos who do not use the Internet are using cell phones, the report found. Fifty-nine percent of Latino adults have a cell phone and 49 percent of Latino cell phone users send and receive text messages on their phone.
Cell phone use, however, is markedly lower for Spanish-speakers. According to the report, 42 percent of Spanish speakers have a cell phone, compared with 75 percent of English-dominant Latinos. U.S.-born Latinos are more also likely than other Latinos to use a cell phone – 72 percent versus 50 percent. However, Latinos over age 60 are more likely to have a cell phone than an Internet connection, which is also true in the non-Hispanic population.
“Cell phone ownership is associated with essentially the same demographic characteristics as Internet usage,” the report found.