Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have made accessing the internet easier in recent years – although those who rely heavily on these devices for online access can face challenges accessing certain online services and information. And among Hispanic internet users, the new survey shows a greater share today use these mobile devices to go online than in 2012.
Mobile-device internet access among Latino subgroups
Overall, 80% of Latino adults say they access the internet via a mobile device such as a cellphone or tablet at least occasionally. This high share, however, belies large differences among Latino demographic subgroups.
For example, while nearly all 18- to 29-year-old Latinos (94%) and 30- to 49-year-old Latinos (89%) use the internet on a mobile device, 58% of Latinos ages 50 to 64 and less than half of those ages 65 and older (35%) do so.
The likelihood of using mobile internet increases with more education and with a higher family income. While about six-in-ten Hispanic adults with less than a high school education (63%) say they use the internet on a mobile device, about nine-in-ten with at least some college experience (91%) say the same. A similar pattern exists for family income, ranging from 77% among those with a family income of less than $30,000 in 2014 up to 94% among those in families earning $50,000 or more.
Smaller differences exist by language dominance and nativity. Fully 86% of English-dominant and 83% of bilingual Hispanic adults use mobile internet, a somewhat higher share than that among Spanish-dominant Hispanic adults (71%). Also, the U.S. born (86%) are more likely than the foreign born (75%) to use mobile internet.
Growing share of online adults now access the internet with a mobile device
Most online Americans also say they use a mobile device (like a cellphone or tablet computer) to access the internet. 5 But this share is higher among Hispanic (94%) and black (94%) internet users than among white internet users (85%).
Mobile internet use is on the rise in the U.S. overall and may even be supplanting home broadband subscriptions. The share of internet users who access the internet on a mobile device rose between 2012 and 2015 among all major racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. The share of Hispanic internet users who access the internet on a mobile device has risen from 76% to 94%. The change among black internet users has been similar, rising from 73% to 94%, while the share of white internet users who access the internet on a mobile device also grew (from 60% to 85%) but still remains lower.
This may help explain why Hispanics and blacks lag whites in broadband subscription rates. Only 10% of white smartphone owners are considered “smartphone dependent,” meaning that they do not have broadband internet access at home but do use a mobile device to access the internet. Hispanic and black smartphone owners, however, are twice as likely to be smartphone dependent – 23% of Hispanics and 19% of blacks fall into this group. 6