There have been reports recently touting the growth in the use of the mobile web by African Americans and English–speaking Latinos. Research by Pew Internet & American Life Project found African Americans and English-speaking Latinos continue to be among the most active users of the mobile web. About 64 percent of African Americans access the Internet from a laptop or mobile phone, a seven-point increase in just one year.
Cell phone ownership is higher among African-Americans and Latinos than among whites (87 percent vs. 80 percent) and minority cell phone owners take advantage of a much greater range of features compared with white users. (You can read the report here.) Many have eluded that this shows the digital divide is closing. I’m not so sure I can start celebrating yet. Don’t get me wrong I am always happy to see increased usage of technologies by minorities but at the same time, I always push to make sure that any group understands the real ways that access to Internet can benefit them. Are they checking for vital health care info they otherwise had no access to or are they checking the latest celebrity gossip. Did they gain access to all the free education information available or download some music?
Yes, the Internet is a great new medium for entertainment but in order it to truly empower us and for the digital divide to truly close, it has to be a means of improving and equalizing access to education, health, and career advancement. Don’t let reports like this give you a false sense of satisfaction. We must continue to educate and push for adoption. And once we reach those goals we then must push for people to use this access to really improve their lives and the lives of the people around them. So as we LOL, ROFL, OMG and BRB to our friends. Let’s also push people for the right level of awareness of what’s available to them so they can GTD in the right areas.