Hispanic Use of Internet Increases

Half of Hispanic adults use the Internet and email, according to a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which found the online Hispanic population grew 25 percent over a period of one year.

Much of the growth in Internet use can be attributed to young people, women and those from modest income households flocking online. In total, 78 percent of Hispanics said they go online at least 3 to 5 times a week and 61 percent of Hispanics with Internet access are online on a typical day.

Hispanic Internet users enjoy using email to sustain and enrich relationships and they found the Internet a valuable source of information for things like news, financial data, product information and trip planning.

Compared to online whites, the Pew survey found that Hispanics with Internet access are more likely to have browsed the Web for fun, listened to music online, downloaded music, played online games, looked for information about books and movies and sampled audio and video clips. Hispanics have also gone online for more serious purposes: 61 percent have done school-research or job training; 51 percent have sought health and medical information; 50 percent have conducted work-related research; 41 percent have done job hunting; 28 percent have browsed for new places to live.

“This is a very engaged group of Internet users,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project. “And its online pursuits are very mainstream.”

Online Hispanics are not quite as likely as whites to have made online purchases or participated in auctions. But they are just as likely to have performed online banking and online stock trading.

  • 41 percent of online Hispanics have bought goods or services online, compared to 49 percent of whites.
  • 20 percent of online Hispanics have done online banking, compared to 17 percent of online whites.
  • 12 percent of online Hispanics have bought and sold stocks online, compared with 13 percent of online whites.
  • 9 percent of online Hispanics have participated in an online auction, compared with 17 percent of online whites.

“One major reason Hispanics are embracing the Internet is its power to enhance users’ lives,” said Tom Spooner, a research specialist at the Pew Project. For example, majorities of Hispanics with Internet access report it has improved their connection to their families and friends. Some 52 percent of online Hispanics say it has helped them pursue their hobbies; 41 percent say it has improved their ability to get health and medical information; 37 percent say that using the Internet has improved their ability to shop; and 33 percent say the Internet has helped them manage their finances.

“Despite socioeconomic and sometimes language barriers, this is a group that will not be left behind technologically,” said Jessika Wellisch, a research fellow with the Pew Internet Project,

According to the “Digital World and the U.S. Hispanic II” study by Cheskin Research, computer penetration among Hispanic households increased from 42.3 percent in the first quarter of 2000 to nearly 47 percent in the fourth quarter. The rate of growth of Hispanic household technology penetration over the last two years is 80 percent compared to 21 percent for the overall market. The greatest barrier to computer ownership among Hispanics is “perceived expense,” according to Cheskin, while “lack of information” also ranks high.

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