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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.

Reader Comments

John Franks

July 22, 2009 5:31 PM


Jaleel Warren

July 22, 2009 5:35 PM

I'm African American on my 5th phone and 3rd smartphone with Sprint since 2001. I have the Samsung Instinct. I use the web and email apps constantly, all day long. I usually tell friends to get onboard with mobile devices it is the wave of the future. Glad to see my people are finding access to information. Now if most African Americans can find use for the internet other than updating their Facebook page (which I'm guilty of too) we might be onto something. Oh, and just a hunch, the next hot wave will be music on mobile devices.


July 22, 2009 5:53 PM

Wow. It's almost 2010 and we're still seeing these black vs. white studies. Each individual human being has different habits based on his or her environments; it doesn't have anything to do with skin color.


July 22, 2009 11:54 PM

I am a former tech junkie who voluntarily junked mobile devices and social networking altogether. The technology is too pervasive. I don't care what my friends are doing anymore. I don't want my friends knowing what I'm doing. And, I don't want the government knowing about me or my friends. Thanx.


July 23, 2009 10:25 AM

Ty, if this world is blessed to see 3010, it will always be a black and white comparison unfortunately.


July 23, 2009 12:04 PM

@Ty, If it has nothing to do with skin color why are there such disparities? Why are there huge disparities in so many other areas such as access to health insurance, educational achievement, incarceration rates, mortgage foreclosures, etc.? These differences may not be caused by racism or predjudice but they still exist. If we don't identify these issues how will they be addressed.

I know you don't give a damn if 50% of African American children grow up in poverty but get out of the way of those that do, we're not hurting you.

Relentless Aaron

July 26, 2009 10:51 AM

I believe that awareness is important always, and as much as this kind of black/white is indeed relevant to once upon a time vs today, it's also great to read these comments, the for and against, so that we get to read inside of one another's minds and find those that we assimilate with, as well as those we DON'T! Enjoy your day!

richard provance

October 11, 2009 12:50 AM

Many in education know how to present material, teach note taking, enforce discipline, and glean a percentage of adequate students from their original group leaving some with a bleak future. Tried and true teaching methods work but can certainly be improved upon. Wouldn't it be nice if we could salvage some of the poorer students. The Learning Booth is like an isolation tank. It eliminates outside stimuli and speeds up learning improving student's concentration and retention. As society enters the twenty first century, we need innovative teaching methods like The Learning Booth so all of our young people can compete in the world market.
Richard Provance,

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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