This is one in a series of posts about the digital adoption across different demographic groups in the U.S.
Black and Hispanic adults in the United States remain less likely than White adults to say they own a traditional computer or have high-speed internet at home, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Jan. 25 to Feb. 8, 2021. But there are no racial and ethnic differences when it comes to other devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
Eight-in-ten White adults report owning a desktop or laptop computer, compared with 69% of Black adults and 67% of Hispanic adults. Eight-in-ten White adults also report having a broadband connection at home, while smaller shares of Black and Hispanic adults say the same – 71% and 65%, respectively. These gaps have been present across several Center surveys. (There were not enough Asian respondents in the sample to be broken out into a separate analysis.)
Pew Research Center has studied Americans’ internet and technology adoption for decades. For this analysis, we surveyed 1,502 U.S. adults from Jan. 25 to Feb. 8, 2021, by cellphone and landline phone. The survey was conducted by interviewers under the direction of Abt Associates and is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, education and other categories. Here are the questions, responses and methodology used for this analysis.
By contrast, there are no statistically significant racial and ethnic differences when it comes to smartphone or tablet ownership. Roughly eight-in-ten or more White, Black and Hispanic adults say they have a smartphone, and about half or more in each group say they have a tablet.
Similar shares of Americans with different racial and ethnic backgrounds report having all of the technologies included in the survey. Around four-in-ten White (42%) and Black adults (40%) say they have a smartphone, broadband at home, a desktop or laptop computer and a tablet. Some 35% of Hispanic adults report the same, but this share does not statistically differ from their Black and White counterparts.
When it comes to accessing the internet, mobile devices play a larger role for Hispanic adults compared with White adults. A quarter of Hispanics are “smartphone-only” internet users – meaning they own a smartphone but lack traditional home broadband services. By comparison, 12% of White adults fall into this category. Among Black adults, 17% are smartphone dependent, but this share is not statistically different from their White or Hispanic counterparts.
At the same time, Black adults are more likely than White adults to say a lack of high-speed internet at home leads to certain disadvantages. For example, 63% of Black adults – compared with 49% of White adults – say not having high-speed internet puts people at a major disadvantage when it comes to connecting with doctors or other medical professionals. The share of Hispanic adults (53%) who see this as a major disadvantage does not statistically differ from those of other racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Note: Here are the questions, responses and methodology used for this analysis. This is an update of a post originally published Aug. 31, 2017, and later updated on Aug. 20, 2019, by Andrew Perrin and Erica Turner.