The Latino Digital Divide: Native-Born vs. Foreign-Born

Technology use among foreign-born Latinos lags significantly behind that of their U.S.-born counterparts.

August 12, 2010

Technology use among foreign-born Latinos continues to lag significantly behind that of their U.S.-born counterparts.

The nativity differences are especially pronounced when it comes to internet use. While 85% of native-born Latinos ages 16 and older go online, only 51% of foreign-born Latinos do so. When it comes to cell phones, 80% of native-born Latinos use one, compared with 72% of the foreign born.

While rates of technology use among native-born Hispanics are relatively high, technology use for the full population of Hispanics continues to lag behind the use rates of the non-Hispanic population. When it comes to internet use, some 64% of Latinos ages 18 and older go online, compared with 78% of non-Latinos.

More than three-fourths (76%) of Latinos use a cell phone, compared with 86% of non-Latinos.

Among youth ages 16 to 25, non-Hispanics are approaching near-universal internet use, but the rate is markedly lower for Hispanics. Some 95% of non-Hispanics ages 16 and 17 go online, as do 96% of those ages 18 to 25. Among Hispanics in both age groups, the internet use rate is 77%.

The ethnic gap in cell phone use is less pronounced, though still significant. Some 82% of non-Hispanics ages 16 and 17 use a cell phone, compared with 72% of Hispanics. Among those ages 18 to 25, 94% of non-Hispanics use a cell phone, as compared with eight-in-ten (80%) Hispanics.

This report is based primarily on the 2009 National Survey of Latinos, which was conducted from August 5 through September 16, 2009 among a randomly selected, nationally representative sample of 2,012 Hispanics ages 16 and older. The survey was conducted in both English and Spanish, on cellular as well as landline telephones. For the total sample, the margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Read the full report [pdf].