Chart from NPR, source data from Pew Internet and American Life Project, refers to above uses on mobile devices only
Now, the story is certainly not saying that the digital divide is no longer an issue, but it does bring up some interesting points. It attributes the higher and more sophisticated use of mobile devices among Latinos and blacks to four factors:
- Networking teens that spread the use to older members of their ethnic group (happens in all ethnic groups, but faster among blacks and Latinos, perhaps due to the relatively higher proportion of young people)
- Cheaper than a home connection (mobile upgrade cheaper than buying a computer and broadband)
- Communication across borders (easier on both sides)
- Convenience (the phone is always there, always gets a signal, no need to worry about wifi or battery)
If mobile devices (think phone, not laptop) become the dominant way of accessing the Internet - and I think that's still very much up in the air (pun intended) - then this just may signal a coming shift in the digital divide that might mirror the demographic shifts in the United States. We still have a long way to go in eliminating access issues, but perhaps this is an encouraging sign that the divide might be narrowing.