December 12, 2001

Asian-Americans and the Internet

Asian-Americans are one of the most wired groups in America

Fully 75% of English-speaking Asian-American adults have used the Internet.  Numbering well over 5 million, these Asian-American Internet users are also the Net’s most active users.  By comparison, 58% of white adults, 43% of African-Americans, and 50% of English-speaking Hispanics are online.

Asian-Americans who responded in phone surveys conducted in English are among the nation’s heaviest users of the Internet on a day-to-day basis – fully 70% of them are online on a typical day.  This is significantly higher than any other English-speaking ethnic group; 58% of white Internet users go online on a typical day, along with 48% of Hispanics and 39% of African-Americans.

As a group, Asian-Americans have been online a lot longer than their peers. Almost half are Internet veterans with more than three years of online experience, and 80% have been online for more than two years.

When Asian-Americans go online, they stay connected for longer than anyone else.  Almost 40% of Asian-American users who are online during a typical day spend two or more hours on the Web.  About 15% spend four or more hours online.

What Asian-Americans like to do on the Web

Asian-Americans engage in their favorite online activities at a much higher rate on a typical day than other groups, indicating that Asian-American users have made the Internet an integral part of their daily lives.  This pattern cuts across all the major Internet activities, whether it is for fun, to look for information, to transact commerce, or to search for information related to major life activities.

There are also some general differences between what Asian-American users like to do and what other users prefer.  As an example, Asian-American users are proportionally much more likely than others to get information about financial matters, travel, and political information.  Asian-American users are also more likely to use the Internet as a resource at school or at work.

  • 34% of Asian-American users get the day’s news online during a typical day, compared with 22% of whites, 20% of Hispanics and 15% of African-American Internet users.
  • 78% of Asian-American users have sought travel information online.
  • 53% of Asian-American users have sought financial information online.
  • 49% of Asian-American users have sought political information online.
  • 68% of Asian-American users have used the Internet for school research, compared with 51% of white users; 59% of Asian-American users have gone online for work-related reasons, compared with 50% of white users.

A table comparing Asian-Americans’ use of the Internet with other groups can be found in the main body of the report.

Differences between Asian-American men and women online

In virtually every case, Asian-American men engage in online activities at a higher rate than Asian-American women.  This is linked to the fact that the Asian-American Internet population is 58% male, 42% female, compared to the general Internet population, which is split 50-50 between men and women.

Large numbers of online Asian-American men and Asian-American women use the Internet on an average day. But they tend to favor different things.  On a typical day, Asian-American women enjoy the Net’s fun activities, like finding information on their hobbies, listening to music and getting sports information.  They are also big consumers of financial information and like to purchase goods online.

On the other hand, Asian-American men on a day-to-day basis like to get information on all kinds of different subjects.  Asian-American men are major online consumers of financial information, travel information, and political news.  Asian-American men are more likely than most others to buy products online, as well as buy and sell stocks.


The results in this survey are largely based on surveys conducted by the Pew Internet & American Project throughout the year 2000. From March 1 through December 22, Princeton Survey Research Associates conducted surveys with more than 26,000 adult Americans, including 486 Asian-Americans, of which 340 use the Internet.