Friday, September 07, 2007

Looking at the Latinos Online Report

As I looked at the report, Latinos Online, published by the Pew Hispanic Center, I thought that some of the findings explained or validated some of the behaviors I observe in our computer lab. It also made me think about a few things:

  • The gap between the English fluent and those lacking that fluency. "78% of Latinos who are English-dominant and 76% of bilingual Latinos use the internet, compared with 32% of Spanish-dominant Hispanic adults" (i). I was reminded of this in a class I taught recently where the professor was telling his students, most of whom where Hispanic, that not all Hispanics speak Spanish. It was in the context of some of the students conversing amongst themselves in Spanish before class started, and someone made some remark I can't recall. the point is the gap is there.
  • However, many Latinos may not use the Internet, but they certainly know how to make use of their cell phones. "Fully 59% of Latino adults have a cell phone and 49% of Latino cell phone users send and receive text messages on their phone" (ii). This is very evident in our library and school. Our students make extensive use of cell phones, to the point it has caused some complaints in the lab leading to us asking them to take their conversations to the lobby (texting is fine). But the point is that they use this technology more than things like IM. The other big thing for them is social software, things like MySpace. Actually here, MySpace is popular followed by some of the Latino sites (like MiGente). A good number of the international students use Hi5, but I am disgressing now a bit. The numbers help confirm the observation.
  • "However, race differences in education and English abilities stand out as factors essential to explaining the gap in internet use between Hispanics and non-Hispanics" (3).
  • "Ten percent of Latinos have a college degree, and of that small group, 89% go online" (4).
  • "Mexicans are the largest national-origin group by far in the U.S. Latino population and are among the least likely to go online. 52% of Latinos of Mexican descent use the internet" (10). Do note the report makes some remarks on other Latino groups in the U.S. In the interest of disclosure, I am Puerto Rican, which means that, according to the study, I have a high likelihood of being an Internet user. Then again, I also have a college degree.
  • "The Pew Internet Project has found that a home broadband connection deepens an internet user's relationship with the online world. Broadband users are more like than dial-up users to shape their online environment, not just surf through it" (12). This could possibly help explain our population's extensive use of the web for what may seem "superficial" things like MySpace. It is simply a matter that they lack the access at home. So, instead of doing it at home they do it here. Personally, I have broadband (cable) at home. While there are days I feel like the cable company is a bunch of pirates, overall, I could never be without a fast connection. I do shape a lot of what I do online.
Sarah Houghton-Jan, the Librarian in Black, pointed to this report, and she asked how could libraries use its information. It was a question I pondered about as well. Personally, every time one of these reports looking at the Hispanic population comes out, I always wonder if there is something I can learn from it. Here at UHD, where we are defined as a Hispanic serving institution, this is the type of report we definitely should be looking at. We should be considering its significance and then looking at how we can improve some of our services.

1 comment:

Vince said...

Hey there,

This is Vince from SocialRank.

We're launching a new Web 2.0 site dedicated to Librarians and we have started indexing your blog posts as part of our content filter.

I'd like to send you an invite to a beta preview. Can you get back to me with your email address.

Mine is