Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Crossing the Digital Divide

Crossing the Digital Divide

Published: November 01, 2005
(After November 09, 2005, this article will only be available to eStat Database subscribers.)

After lagging the broader US population in online usage, African Americans are starting to catch up. A new report from eMarketer explains why.

African-American Internet users make up 10.5% of the total online population, according to eMarketer. There are 18.4 million African Americans online – nearly as many as there are teens online in the US.

"African Americans are a strong potential market for broadband services and for education, career and informational content," says Debra Aho Williamson, Senior Analyst at eMarketer and author of the African Americans Online report. "They will also be among the early adopters of the mobile Internet."

Internet usage among African Americans has risen steadily, from 34% of the adult population in 2000 to 57% in 2005, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The National Urban League has also noted an uptick in usage, as cited in its 2005 edition of "The State of Black America." Last year, twice as many white households had Internet access as black households. This year, there has been an 18-point improvement in access among black households.

"But amid the good news, there is still frustration," says Ms. Williamson. "Just 50% to 60% of African American households have computers, versus 70% of white households. Though African Americans are increasingly using the Internet at work, home access is a strong driver of frequency of use."

Income and educational status are improving, but remain barriers to access.

A greater concern, however, is that the remaining lag in usage may also be self-imposed. "The most worrying factor," says Ms. Williamson, "is that a large percentage of African Americans don't appear to be interested in going online, even if they have the money and education to do it."

"Some of the digital divide is self-imposed," Bruce Gordon, head of the NAACP, told Businessweek in October 2005. "A computer and a DSL line don't cost that much anymore. We need to convince more households to buy computers and go online."

Keep up with the changing times—read eMarketer's new African Americans Online report today.

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2 comments:

dchase said...

Do you have a plan to help increase the # of African-Americans online in order to market to them more effectively through your online channels? Or, are you content to just target those that are online already?

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