Study: Minorities leading in mobile web usage; helping close digital divide

A study that looks at mobile web usage found numbers that suggest that the digital divide among minority groups is being closed because of access on a mobile phone

The key to eliminating the Digital Divide may be the mobile phone.

In an interesting look at the usage of mobile web among Americans, a study by the Pew Internet and American Life project (PDF) found that both African-Americans and English-speaking Hispanics are the leading users of the mobile web connection on a phone.

The numbers are pretty impressive for both minority groups, which have largely gone under-represented in earlier studies about Internet usage. Among Hispanics, just more than half (51 percent) have accessed the Internet from a mobile device. Among African-Americans, 46 percent accessed the Web from their mobile phones, compared to 33 percent of whites and 38 percent of all adults.

The trend remains the same for other activities using a mobile phone, including watching a video, using a social networking site or taking a picture.

Likewise, those same groups access the mobile web more frequently, with 55 percent of English-speaking Hispanics using their phones to go online several times a day.

For years, there were efforts to close the so-called "digital divide," an ongoing issue that put some minority groups at a disadvantage because they had such small rates of computer ownership or online access. Making feature phones and smartphones more accessible and affordable has changed the makeup of who's online and minority groups are now outpacing others, including all adults as a collective group, in use of some advanced features.

All of that becomes even more relevant when you consider that efforts to increase advertising through mobile devices is just getting started.

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