Without a doubt, everyone today uses technology. However, the way people use technology often differs, even amongst different ethnic groups. The digital divide between Blacks and other ethnic groups is very real. Several different groups have done research to identify how blacks use different forms of technology as opposed to other ethnic groups, including the Pew Research Center.
In general, over past 10 years, the percentage of the black population that are likely to use the internet has doubled. But Blacks are less likely to go online than Whites. When dealing with mobile products (cellular devices, tablets, etc.), the story is quite different. Blacks and Latinos are more likely to not only own a cell phone, but are more likely to use a wider range of features on their phones. Approximately 70% of blacks use their cell phones for text messaging, while just over 50% of whites do. Blacks are also more likely to use their cell phones to access social networking sites, internet, record and watch videos, email, play games, music, and use instant messaging.
When dealing with computers, Blacks are considerably less likely to own a desktop computer, but roughly half of Blacks, Whites, and Latinos are likely to own a laptop computer. Laptop ownership among Blacks has almost doubled since 2009. While about half of all three groups are likely to own an mp3 player (such as an iPod), Blacks are slightly more likely to own a gaming console such as an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3.
When it comes down to it, the digital divide is bigger than accessing social media networks, texting a friend, or listening to music. Closing the digital divide is about knowing how to accurately access information, communicate with others (outside of Twitter/Facebook), and make money. Black Enterprise.com reported in May of 2011 that only 1% of tech start-ups have black founders. Also, the amount of Blacks attending social media/digital conferences is not very high. The Blogging While Brown conference addresses this issue by providing “beginning and advanced technological training in digital media content creation and social media networking … ” among many other things. There are several other resources available online that highlight Blacks and technology. One of my favorites is Blackweb20.com.
Starting with the pager, to the cell phone, to the iPod, to even Beats by Dre headphones, Blacks are and will always be frequent users of technology. Although the digital divide is lessening, if Blacks are going to remain successful, they must strive to achieve digital and media literacy. Call me crazy, but this blogger believes that as the digital divide closes, so will the disparity in academic success between Blacks and other ethnic groups. We may begin to see more black start-ups, and more popular blog sites owned by Blacks such as TheCubicleChick.com!
Source: Pew Research Center