RS1: Illinois

Recent Tech Adoption Trends and Implications for the Digital Divide

Recently, home broadband adoption has slowed while smartphone adoption has increased significantly. Horrigan states that “broadband adoption has leveled off since 2009” (4). Meanwhile, smartphone users among the U.S. population rose to “nearly half…by 2012” (5). It was initially thought that people without home broadband were choosing smartphones as their sole way of accessing the internet, but Horrigan points out that “83% of those with Smartphone[s] also have broadband at home” (6). Horrigan also discusses how smartphones have helped minorities access the internet. In Illinois, while “46% … have Smartphones, 52% of African Americans have one and 60% of Hispanics do” (7). Per Horrigan, “Hispanics are slightly more likely to have a Smartphone than a home broadband subscription” (7). Horrigan explains studies that show “the ‘access gain’ due to Smartphone is about 15 percentage points for African Americans and close to 20 percentage points for Hispanics” (8). Horrigan believes even though smartphones are helping close the digital divide in terms of access, they might not be as useful in performing certain activities as computers.

Horrigan then discusses an Illinois survey. Broadband users are better educated, younger, and wealthier than the general population, while “smartphone users are younger than broadband users, generally, and about as well-off economically” (10). Horrigan states that the smartphone-only population is “twice as likely as the general Smartphone population to be African American or Hispanic and is two-and-one-half times the general Smartphone population to be low-income” (10-11). Horrigan says that those with broadband and smartphones or just broadband perform “a wider range of online activities than respondents with only Smartphone access” (17). Horrigan notes that people “with both access paths were more likely than those with only home broadband access or only Smartphone access to say internet access was “very important” to helping in areas queried” (18). Horrigan concludes by saying that smartphones by themselves may not be “a solution to the digital divide” (18). Therefore, “initiatives aimed at expanding broadband adoption” are valuable (18).

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