July 25, 2001

Hispanics and the Internet

Half of Hispanic adults are online

Fully 50% of Hispanics who are 18 and older have used the Internet. Overall, 11 million Hispanic adults have Internet access and there was a 25% increase in the population in the twelve months from March 2000 through February 2001, which is the month we measured the access rate at 50%. By comparison, 58% of white adults have been online and 43% of African-Americans have been online.

More of the Hispanic newcomers are women than men. The overall Hispanic population with Internet access is split evenly between men and women.

Two-thirds of the growth came from those under age 34 and, overall, 61% of Hispanic Internet users are 34 and under. A high proportion of Hispanic Internet users are also parents of children under age 18.

Many online Hispanic families live in modest economic circumstances and stretch their resources to buy computers and get Internet access. Half of online Hispanics live in households with less than $40,000 income. Most do not have college degrees, at least partly because some of the newbies are not old enough to have finished college.

The Internet is an important tool for these users at work and school: 61% of online Hispanics have used the Internet for school-related research or job training and 50% have used it for work-related research. Some 30% of online Hispanics say they first started using the Internet for reasons related to school.

Online Hispanics are enthusiastic Internet users. On any given day, 61% of Hispanics with Internet access are online, according to our February survey. That is a 20% increase from our findings in March 2000. Or, looked at another way, 78% of Hispanic Internet users say they go online at least three-to-five times a week.

What Hispanics do online

In many respects, Hispanic Internet users behave like other Internet users. They enjoy using email to sustain and enrich relationships and they find the Internet a valuable source of information for things like news, financial data, product information, and trip planning. There are, however, some notable differences between online Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites with Internet access when it comes to fun activities online. For instance, Hispanics with Internet access are more likely than online whites to have browsed the Web for fun, listened to music online, downloaded music, played online games, looked for information about books and movies, and sampled audio and video clips. These differences are likely associated with the relatively high number of young adults in the Internet population rather than with cultural differences between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites.  Nonetheless, the following preferences stand out in the online Hispanic population:

  • 72% of online Hispanics have gone online “just for fun,” compared to 62% of white Internet users.
  • 71% have used the Internet to get information about books, movies and other leisure activities, compared to 62% of whites.
  • 48% of online Hispanics have listened to music on the Web, compared to 33% of online whites.
  • 36% of online Hispanics have downloaded music files, compared to 21% of online whites.

Online Hispanics also use the Internet to get information related to their economic and personal advancement. They use these features of the Web in roughly the same proportions as whites.

  • 51% have used the Web to get health and medical information.
  • 41% have used the Web to look for a job.
  • 28% have used the Web to gather information about a place to live.

When money is involved, online Hispanics have tried some activities in similar proportions to whites, including online banking (20% of online Hispanics have done that) and stock trading (12% have done that). Some 41% of online Hispanics have purchased goods or services online, compared to 49% of whites.  Similarly, whites are more likely than Hispanics to have participated in online auctions.

A table of all the activities Hispanics perform online appears on page 11 of this report.

How Hispanic men and women differ in their Internet use

Online Hispanic men are more likely than women to have looked for these things on the Web: news, financial information, sports information, and product information. They are also more likely than women to have listened to audio clips and viewed video clips.

Online Hispanic women are more likely than men to have done these things on the Web: sought health and medical information, looked for new-job information, researched material on places to live, played online games, and sent instant messages.

A table comparing the online activities of Hispanic men and women with whites and blacks appears on page 15 of this report.

Generational differences among online Hispanics

Online Hispanics under age 30 are more likely than their elders to have surfed the Internet for fun, been to chat rooms, listened to music online, downloaded music, played games, pursued their hobbies, sought job information, and looked for a place to live.

Online Hispanics 30 and older are more likely than younger Hispanics to have visited government Web sites, made travel reservations, and sought health information.

Hispanics’ opinions about the Internet

Like many of those who use the Internet, Hispanics have found that the Net has improved some aspects of their lives.

  • 58% of online Hispanics say the Internet has helped their connection to friends.
  • 52% say the Internet has helped their connection to family.
  • 52% say the Internet has helped them pursue their hobbies.
  • 41% say the Internet has improved their ability to get health and medical information. Some 49% of online Hispanic women say that.
  • 37% say that using the Internet has improved their ability to shop.
  • 33% say the Internet has helped them manage their finances.

Where Hispanics have Internet access

Some 44% of Hispanic Internet users go online only from their homes; 14% do so only from their workplace; and 33% have access at both home and work. The rest have access at community facilities and friends’ homes. On any given day, Hispanics are much more likely to log on from home than from work. Fully 54% of Hispanic Internet users are logging on from home on a typical day, 23% are logging on only at work, and 16% are logging on in both places.