Narrowing The Divide

African Americans are surfing the Net at increasing rates

While the digital divide remains a reality, the gap continues to narrow. Between August 2000 and September 2001, Internet use among African Americans increased at an annual rate of 33%, climbing to 18.5 million users, according to a study by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the Economics and Statistics Administration.

The report, A Nation Online: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of the Internet, is based on statistics from the Census Bureau’s 2001 Current Population Survey, which polled approximately 57,000 households and more than 137,000 individuals across the U.S. By comparison, Hispanics experienced annual growth rates of 30%, while Asian American/Pacific Islanders experienced growth rates of approximately 20% during these same periods.

And these numbers are expected to increase. Jupiter Media Metrix, a New York City-based research firm, issued a report predicting that the number of African American households using the Internet will increase annually through 20064the furthest the report projects.

“What’s really driving it is the growth of the Internet,” points out Andrew Peach, a senior analyst at Jupiter. “What we’ve seen is that Internet usage has penetrated into lower income levels, when it used to be only higher-level income [households] that had Internet access.” Peach also says that affordable computers, and Internet access in public schools and libraries are other growth drivers.

Although the digital divide will continue into the foreseeable future, Peach believes the chasm is slowly narrowing. By 2006, Peach projects that 66% of African Americans will have Internet access compared with 78% of Caucasians.

Ethnicity Analysis

  2002 2003 2004 2005
Number of African American
Households in the U.S.*
13.2 13.4 13.6 13.8
Number of African American
Households online*
6.5 7.4 8.1 8.7
Percentage of African American
Households online
50% 55% 59% 63%

Source: Jupiter Media Metrix
*In millions

ACROSS THE WEB