Study: Latinos Lag Whites, Blacks In Internet Access
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
When it comes to high-speed Internet access, only 45 percent of Latinos living in the United States have broadband at home. That is well behind white Americans at 65 percent, and African-Americans at 52 percent.
According to a Pew Hispanic Center report released today, this lack of access speaks to a much larger digital divide in the country, as NPR's Shereen Meraji reports.
SHEREEN MERAJI: It's dinner time on a Tuesday night, but the public library in the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights is packed.
Unidentified Person: Do you have "Twilight: The Eclipse?"
Unidentified Woman: You know, somebody just checked that out...
MERAJI: Kids want books, but they also want to surf the Web. Every single computer is in use. The library has high-speed Internet and more than 20 computers.
The computers are a big draw for patrons like 28-year-old Beto Moreno. He makes money tutoring kids from the neighborhood and lives with his parents. They don't have Internet access at home.
Mr. BETO MORENO: We haven't had Internet there, for, since, like, '06.
MERAJI: Is there a reason why you don't have it at home?
Mr. MORENO: We don't have enough cash, so it's about that.
MERAJI: And Moreno adds that out of the 17 kids he tutors from this working-class Latino community, only four have computers at home with a broadband connection.
Ms. GRETCHEN LIVINGSTON (Pew Hispanic Center): We did analyses where we controlled for education and income, and those differences disappeared entirely.
MERAJI: Gretchen Livingston authored the Pew Hispanic Center's report. She says that home broadband isn't the only divide.
Ms. LIVINGSTON: Latinos are lagging whites in several forms of digital technology ownership or access. This is the case for Internet use, using the Internet at home and cell phone ownership, as well.
MERAJI: Jason Llorenz is the executive director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership. He thinks these stats should worry all Americans.
Mr. JASON LLORENZ (Executive Director, Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership): If we don't get everyone online and meaningfully adopting broadband - that's via mobile, via home use - we will have a pernicious and continuing digital underclass.
MERAJI: But who is going to pay to level the playing field? Llorenz says that the federal government shouldn't have to bear the entire burden.
Mr. LLORENZ: We need to develop new and better opportunities to serve the community, via public-private partnerships, community-based programs, new products and services that come from the private sector.
MERAJI: The private sector might have to step up because city governments are broke. And public libraries with high-speed Internet like the one in East L.A. are open fewer days a week and closing earlier.
Shereen Meraji, NPR News.
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