Today, as mobile technology puts computers in our pockets, Hispanics and blacks are more likely than the general population to access the Web by cellular phones, and they use their phones more often to do more things.
But now some see a new "digital divide" emerging — with Hispanics and blacks being challenged by more, not less, access to technology. It's tough to fill out a job application on a cell phone, for example. Researchers have noticed signs of segregation online that perpetuate divisions in the physical world. And blacks and Hispanics may be using their increased Web access more for entertainment than empowerment.
Fifty-one percent of Hispanics and 46 percent of blacks use their phones to access the Internet, compared with 33 percent of whites, according to a July 2010 Pew poll. Forty-seven percent of Hispanics and 41 percent of blacks use their phones for e-mail, compared with 30 percent of whites. The figures for using social media like Facebook via phone were 36 percent for Hispanics, 33 percent for blacks and 19 percent for whites.
A greater percentage of whites than blacks and Latinos still have broadband access at home, but laptop ownership is now about even for all these groups, after black laptop ownership jumped from 34 percent in 2009 to 51 percent in 2010, according to Pew.