Access Rising, But Ethnic Groups Perceiving Net Differently

Internet access by multicultural audiences has doubled during the past two years, but the technology is still being adopted a slower pace in part because of perceptions about the Internet that differ from the broader population, according to a study by Access Worldwide Communications, Inc.

The research indicates that ethnic and cultural factors play a prominent role in determining the how those groups use the Internet as well as how they form attitudes and needs about the medium and technology overall.

Among the study’s findings:

  • African Americans are more apt than the general population to use the internet for career advancement and professional development, family/relationship themes, education, entertainment and exploring hobbies and interests.
  • Hispanics, on the other hand, were more likely to use the medium as a source for news — particularly international news.
  • Unlike the general market, both groups are less likely to use the internet to look for financial or technological information online.

The study was conducted in partnership with Survey.com and was done entirely online. The approximately 3,500 respondents were culled from users of several key ethnic Web sites and from Survey.com’s consumer panel. Respondents had the option of completing the survey in either English or Spanish.

Similarities to the broader internet user population did emerge in the study. According to the report, the longer ethnic users were using the medium, the more likely it was that they would engage in e-commerce activities. More than 40 percent of online African Americans with three or more years of experience have purchased products on the Internet, compared to only 19 percent for those in the same ethnic group who had less than three years experience.

Among Hispanics, 42 percent with three or more years of experience have purchased products on the Internet, compared to 26 percent with less than three years experience.

Despite increasing usage among cultural and ethnic group members, there continues to be skepticism about the overall impact of the Internet on their quality of life. In particular, African Americans surveyed were least likely to believe that the Internet removes racial barriers and creates new social opportunities. African American and Hispanic respondents were nearly three times and five times as likely, respectively, than the general market to mention negative perceptions of the Internet, the survey showed.

The overall impact the Internet is having on family life was also a concern among the respondents to the survey.

Forty percent of the African American and Hispanic respondents were dissatisfied with the Internet content for children. Half of African American respondents even felt that the Internet should be censored — twice the level of Hispanics and the general market. In contrast to 37 percent of the general market, 55 percent of African Americans and 89 percent of Hispanics said they have children at home.

Reprinted from internet.com’s miami.internet.com.

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