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An End To The Digital Divide?

August 24, 2015

iStock_000005643842MediumHas the digital divide gone the way of the rotary phone, answering machines and typewriters.

If a new Associated Press poll is to be believed, it looks like it.

The poll, taken in the early part of this year, surveyed Americans aged 18 to 34 (members of the so-called millennial generation) about their ability to access news online. According to Associated Press reporter Glynn A. Hill, the poll found “African-American millennials say they are just as engaged in getting news online as their white counterparts, further debunking a long-held belief that people of color are at risk of being left behind technologically.”

In fact, African American millennials were more likely than most groups to get their news online. Sixty-six percent of African Americans said they read or watch news online “regularly” compared to 64 percent overall. (Sixty-five percent of white millennials said they look for news online.) Unfortunately, the divide still exists with Hispanics: only 53 percent of Hispanics said they read or watch news online regularly.  (The poll, however, did find “Hispanics and African-Americans are just as likely as any millennials to have a paid news subscription.”)

The American Press Institute (API) funded the survey. API President Tom Rosenstiel said, “People of color are very wired … If you want a subject that hasn’t been covered in the mainstream, millennials have found ways to get at that information through community sharing more than traditional ways.”

The Associated Press story also noted “[M]inorities emerged among the biggest users of certain forms of technology, such as smartphones.” Indeed, according to the poll, African-American and Hispanic millennials are just as likely as any other group of millennials to use a smartphone or tablet.

While too many Americans still have not adopted broadband or the Internet, this poll makes it clear that the $1.4 trillion private telecommunications providers have invested in broadband technology is paying off.