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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Economy > It’s Not a Digital Divide that Exists Among Latinos, but a Divide Over Nativity

It’s Not a Digital Divide that Exists Among Latinos, but a Divide Over Nativity

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First, there were THESE headlines:

Latinos hurt by digital divide, report says

Latinos lagging in Internet use, report states

Study finds wide Internet gap among US Latinos

US Latinos Less Likely to Use Internet


Juan Manuel Reyes- Hernandez, 12, plays games on the internet.
(Source: Statesmanjournal.com)

All of the above stories dealt with the March 14, 2007 report released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Pew Hispanic Center titled Latinos Online: Hispanics with lower levels of education and English proficiency remain largely disconnected from the internet.

Among some of the report’s findings were:

78% of Latinos who are English-dominant and 76% of bilingual Latinos use the internet, compared with 32% of Spanish-dominant Hispanic adults.

76% of U.S.-born Latinos go online, compared with 43% of those born outside the U.S. Some of this is related to language, but analysis shows that being born outside of the 50 states is an independent factor that is associated with a decreased likelihood of going online.

80% of second-generation Latinos, the sons and daughters of immigrants, go online, as do 71% of third-generation Latinos.

89% of Latinos who have a college degree, 70% of Latinos who completed high school, and 31% of Latinos who did not complete high school go online.

Mexicans are the largest national origin group in the U.S. Latino population and are among the least likely groups to go online: 52% of Latinos of Mexican descent use the internet. Even when age, income, language, generation, or nativity is held constant, being Mexican is associated with a decreased likelihood of going online.

It is obvious this report deals with a certain segment of the Latino community. Yet, by the media headlines, one would never know it. The assumption, without even reading the full article, would lead the casual reader to think that the Internet is unchartered territory for ALL Latinos.

Then come THESE headlines this week:

Online U.S. Hispanics Are Internet Trend Setters,Study Shows

Study Finds Hispanics Avid Consumers Of Online Media

‘Media Meshing’ Comes Easy to Hispanics

U.S. Hispanics Quick to Embrace Digital Media

All these articles were regarding a new study released this week by Experian Simmons Research and YAHOO! Telemundo titled Conexión Cultural/Connected Culture.

Among some of this report’s findings included:

Hispanics with Internet access outpace the general population in reported hours of daily media and technology use, identifying a total of 51 hours of total daily activities including 27 percent of each day (14 hours) spent with technology, and 26 percent (13.5 hours) spent with media (the general market identified only eight hours a day with technology and nine hours with media).

Online U.S. Hispanics are early adopters and users of media, devices and their features compared to the general population

Online U.S. Hispanics are highly experienced and multi-faceted on the Internet. Two-thirds have been online for more than five years, 80 percent have access to broadband and 44 percent have wireless access.

Although study respondents consume Spanish language media, Spanish dominant respondents stated that they consume two-thirds of their online content in English due to the lack of Spanish language options.

The difference between the two sets of headlines clearly shows that a divide does exist in the Latino community, but it is a divide regarding the impression of the Latino community that is perpetuated by the media.
Even the Pew report conceded that:

76% of U.S.-born Latinos go online, compared with 43% of those born outside the U.S. Some of this is related to language, but analysis shows that being born outside of the 50 states is an independent factor that is associated with a decreased likelihood of going online.

80% of second-generation Latinos, the sons and daughters of immigrants, go online, as do 71% of third-generation Latinos.

It goes without saying that the US Latino population is complex. There are the immigrants and there are the native born. Both groups with distinct needs and challenges, but to take the first report’s findings and apply them without thought to the entire US Latino population does all Latinos a big disservice.

By “lump identifying” Latinos, it feeds into low academic expectations of all Latinos, the assumption that all Latinos speak fluent Spanish, prefer telenovelas over sitcoms, are technologically illiterate and every other bad stereotype.

While it’s important to measure and know the challenges that face immigrant Latinos, it is equally important to know the challenges that U.S –born Latinos face.

Otherwise, if all Latinos are lumped together, what emerges is a distorted picture of who US Latinos really are, and just how different the needs are between the two groups.

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