African-Americans Using Wealth Of Web Information

African-Americans with access to the Internet are working it seriously and feeling good about it, according to the latest report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The group conducted a survey of the online behaviors of blacks and found they are more likely to take advantage of its many uses including job information, quality of life questions and email.

“We’ll of course we’re pleased with the news,” says San Francisco-based NetNoir CEO E. David Ellington. “This yet again demonstrates the growth of not only African-Americans but also women and seniors online. It’s unfortunate that we have yet another study that confirms what we know to be true.”

Ellington says companies like his target a rapidly growing sector of the market – African-Americans with power and prestige.

“Our users are usually college educated and making more than $63,000 a year,” says Ellington.

The report found that blacks are more likely than whites to use the Internet in a lot of areas. For example, online blacks are:

  • 69 percent more likely to have listened to music on the Web.
  • 45 percent more likely to have played a game on the Web.
  • 38 percent more likely to have downloaded music files from the Web
  • 38 percent more likely to have sought information about jobs on the Web.
  • 20 percent more likely to have conducted school research or gotten job training on the Web.

And more African-Americans are now online than ever before. According to the Pew study, the overall African-American population online is about 7.5 million, more than 4 million of that are women.

In the past year, more than 3.5 million African-Americans have gone online for the first time. Almost half of all African-American Internet users say they got access to the Web for the first time in the past 12 months.

STILL A DIVIDE

Some of the news from the Pew study has not changed. There is still a so-called “digital divide” in the U.S. between black and white Internet users.

African-Americans still lag behind white users in Internet access and computer use. Only 36 percent of African-Americans have ever used the Internet opposed to about half of all whites, according to the report.

A little over half of all African-Americans use computers, while 63 percent of whites use computers. Rural blacks are not nearly as connected to the Internet as blacks who live in cities or suburbs. Just 22 percent of blacks in rural areas have online access, compared to 41percent of suburban blacks who have access and 35percent of urban blacks.

To fill in the divide, Ellington says NetNoir and other sites targeted for African-Americans can offer good destinations for first time users. The key to keeping a presence on the Web says Ellington is just like any other business – networking.

“We were the first black-owned Internet site in San Francisco five years ago,” says Ellington. “Since then, the people at popular sites like BET, Black Voices and Black Planet have all popped up. We all keep in touch.”

Keeping in touch can also turn into profitability. Ellington says NetNoir expects to turn a profit later this year.

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