Pew: African Americans, Wireless Web’s ‘Pace Setters’

Olga Kharif, Business Week, 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. {snip}

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