Latino broadband access limited in CA

Only half of Latino households in California have access to broadband, compared to 71% of black households, 75% of Asian households, and 80% of white households.

Elaine Rita Mendus | July 30, 2013 | 12:36 am

Public Policy Institute of California report examining the use of Internet tech by Californians includes some interesting data on Internet access among minorities, including Latinos. The report points to a digital divide in ability to access and utilize the Internet, which could hamper the power of the net for Latinos trying to find jobs or access services.

Broadband access is a major issue. While not a problem for households with an average income of $80,000 or more, only 53% of Californians with an income under $40,000 have access to broadband Internet.

Access to broadband Internet is also affected by the education, as well as race; 88% of college graduates have access to broadband, versus 47% with a high school diploma or less. When it comes to race, though, the data shows an extremely disproportionate number of Latinos have access to broadband Internet. Only half of Latino households in the state have access to broadband, compared to 71% of black households, 75% of Asian households, and 80% of white households.

Latinos, however, are not entirely kept off the Internet. 60% of Latinos access the Internet primarily through their cell phones – a contrast between only 22% of whites. This can be a problem due to smaller screen size, bandwidth, signal reception, and not all website being mobile friendly.

The inability of Latinos to access high-speed Internet is detrimental to them in many ways. It can prevent websites from loading properly or at all, inhibit access of online resources, and act as a barrier to information – leaving people without future ability to access and use its resources.

The primary reason for not using the Internet among whites was a lack of interest, (44%) with only a small percentage of that group being interested in using it. On the other hand, Latinos are split three ways on why they don’t: 34% replied to the survey that they were “unable” to learn how to use the Internet; half found it too difficult to use, and another half replying that they “just don’t know how to” use the Internet.  A lack of interest, like whites, was present, but at a lower percentage, 30%. Another 30% of Latinos cited cost to be a reason for an inability to access the Internet. Half were unable to afford a computer, half unable to afford to pay the Internet bill.

23% of the Latinos who don’t have Internet access, though, were interested in using it if they had the opportunity. The lack of understanding and access to the Internet by Latinos is further reflected with a worry by parents about the safety of their kids on the Internet, with 40% of Latinos  “very worried,” with only 24% of white parents sharing similar feelings. However, when asked if they ever used parental controls or other means of blocking, filtering, or monitoring  child activities, only 44% of Latinos indicated that they had. This, compared to 63% of whites who’d used these controls.

What this data suggests is that Latinos are very behind in terms of accessing the Internet, and that this lag is largely affected by income and education, leaving  people unable to understand and use this resource, which might frustrate them and deter them, or leave them worried about their children’s activities online – but unable to or incapable of doing anything to monitor their kid’s activities.

The repercussions of this lag for Latinos online could affect anything from job prospects, educational participation or protection of children from online predators.

The study can be read in full here.

[Image Via Gavin St. Ours]

About Elaine Rita Mendus (50 Posts)

Elaine Rita Mendus is a undergraduate student working on graduating college (someday soon). Her career interests include geopolitics, the Hispanic community, and urban planning. She really wouldn't mind ending up a scriptwriter though...

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