A Revealing Look at How Blacks Use Technology

A new report sheds light on the African American community's enthusiasm for technology, especially mobile

african american technology
(Image: iStock.com/PeopleImages)

A new Nielsen report offers a comprehensive look at how most African Americans use technology and consume digital content.

Some key findings: Black people tend to be early tech adopters and depend on recommendations of family and friends on which tech to purchase. African Americans are the largest ethnic group to access the internet by smartphone and to use social media for awareness (this is particularly true about black millennials).

Nielsen used its own analytical tools to collect this data from thousands of African Americans.

From the report:

Social Media:

  • 55% of black millennials say they spend an hour or more daily on social networking sites; 11% higher than the total millennial population.
  • 29% of black millennials say they spend three or more hours daily on social media; that’s 44% higher than that of the total millennial population.
  • 64% of black millennials agree that they expect the quality of video on their mobile phone to be as good as that on their TV (21% higher than the total millennial population).
  • 64% of black millennials agree they like to keep their personal internet pages updated.
  • Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are the most common social networking sites with strong black membership among all ages.
  • Black millennials and older generations are more likely than their total population counterparts to use Twitter, Google+, and WhatsApp.
  • Blacks aged 35–49 have more member profiles on YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, and Tumblr, compared to their total population counterparts.
  • African Americans, led by black millennials are using social media to raise awareness of the situation of the black community in American society. Examples cited are the #blacklivesmatter; #oscarssowhite; and #bankblack movements.
  • 91% of African Americans say they access the internet via a smartphone or broadband. That’s up 86% from the year before—outpacing other racial/ethnic groups by 6%.

Technology Device Ownership:

  • African Americans are not only showing the largest increase in mobile internet access, but they are the second-largest multicultural group for mobile device ownership, with 91% owning smartphones.
  • 45% of African Americans own desktop or laptop computers (compared to 79% of whites).
  • 38% of African Americans own tablets (compared to 47% of whites).
  • African Americans of all ages are more likely than their counterparts to agree that they are among the first of their friends and colleagues to try new technology. The majority are fascinated by new technology, enjoy learning about technology from others, and will typically recommend a tech or electronics product to people they know.

Content Consumption:

  • Black millennials spend almost 33 hours per week watching live plus time-shifted TV, a rate 61% higher than their counterparts.
  • African Americans aged 35 to 49 spend 48 hours per week watching live plus time-shifted TV, a rate 49% higher than their counterparts.
  • Black millennials watch videos on PCs and smartphones at rates 48% and 23% higher, respectively, than their total market counterparts
  • African Americans aged 35 to 49 watch videos on PCs and smartphones at rates 45% and 32% higher than their counterparts, respectively.

Video Games:

  • African American millennials claim to spend 9% of their leisure time on video games, versus 12% for the total millennial population.
  • African Americans 35 and older spend 13% of their leisure time on video games.
  • African Americans of all ages overindex against their total population counterparts for agreeing that they are the first to buy the newest games or gaming systems and prefer multiplayer games versus single-player.
  • Black millennials overindex against their total population counterparts for net (collective) ownership of gaming consoles/handheld devices/ computers/digital or streaming media players, and gaming micro-consoles.
  • Blacks aged 35-and-older prefer using smartphones to play video games.
  • Darren A. Wallace

    While I consider this article very interesting, it focuses more on how African Americans are consumers of technology. I am an African American business owner of a software development company that has been in business since early 2013. I have 30 years of experience in the field of database and business application development for both web and desktop based systems.

    I would love to see an article regarding the number of African Americans who work in the field of technology. I have held senior level positions with companies like Merrill Lynch, Viacom and Showtime. Speaking from experience, the number of blacks I have encountered in this field in disproportionate to other ethnicities like AsianS, East Indians and Caucasians.

    I think a demographic of blacks who work as programmers, network administrators and Web designers would be equally enlightening.

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