Pew: African Americans, Wireless Web's 'Pace Setters'
Posted by: Olga Kharif on July 22, 2009
African Americans’ use of mobile Web has more than doubled in the past several years, according to a Pew Research Center survey released on July 22. Not only are African Americans the most active users of the wireless Internet, but their use of the mobile Web is also growing the fastest.
While 32% of all Americans have accessed the Internet via a mobile device this year, African Americans’ mobile Web usage was far greater, reaching 48% of respondents, according to the study. That’s a huge, 141% jump from 2007, when only 12% of African Americans used the Internet on their mobiles on a given day. “Our data do show that African Americans are less likely to have laptop or desktop computers,” explains the study’s author, John Horrigan. “Given limited budgets, it seems that African Americans opt for cheaper devices, [such as cell phones] with a certain monthly fee, over items with large fixed outlays [such as PCs] that require a monthly outlay to an Internet Service Provider.”
While white Americans are still much more likely to go online using a computer, wireless connectivity clearly helps narrow the digital divide. On an average day, 61% of whites go online when mobile access is included, while 54% of African Americans do the same. A prior Pew study found that all Americans are becoming more interested in going online using their mobile devices.
The study found that wireless Internet use among the population as a whole has skyrocketed in the past two years. Laptops remain the most prevalent tool for accessing the mobile Web, but cell phones are quickly catching up. And people are starting to access the Web via new devices such as the Kindle e-book reader. The study is based on a survey of 2,253 adults.