Twitter, home Internet access increasingly popular among young, educated African-Americans

WASHINGTON – Young, college-educated and higher-income African Americans are just as likely as their white counterparts to use the Internet, and Twitter seems to be a favourite place in cyberspace, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

The report, released Monday, showed that about 72 per cent of African Americans have either home broadband connection or a smartphone, or both. About 86 per cent of black Internet users ages 18 to 29 have broadband access at home, about 88 per cent are college graduates and about 91 per cent earn at least $75,000 annually, Pew researchers said.

African Americans also tend to use Twitter more often than whites, Pew said, noting that 22 per cent of blacks access the microblogging social networking site at high levels compared to 16 per cent of whites. Confirming the phenomenon of “Black Twitter,” or the use of clever hashtags to spur dialogue on specific topics of interest to blacks, Pew noted that Twitter use rates are higher among young adults, with 40 per cent for blacks and 28 per cent for whites, and about 96 per cent of blacks on Twitter are between 18 and 29 years old.

Overall, 73 per cent of African American Internet users and 72 per cent of white Internet users use Twitter, Pew said.

Blacks still trail whites when it comes to general Internet use, the report said. About 80 per cent of blacks use the Internet compared to 87 per cent of their white counterparts, the report said, and more whites have access to broadband service in their homes by about 12 percentage points compared to blacks.

The disparity widens as the population gets older: only 45 per cent of African Americans ages 65 and older use the Internet compared to 63 per cent of whites in that same age group. Internet use is also less common among blacks who have not attended college. Among blacks surveyed in the report who did not attend college, 63 per cent use the internet, compared to 74 per cent of whites.

Whites trump blacks by about five percentage points in use of tablet computers and e-readers as well. About 29 per cent of African Americans own a tablet computer compared to 34 per cent of whites, and about 21 per cent of blacks own an e-reader compared to 26 per cent of their white counterparts.

Blacks and whites are equally likely to own a cellphone or smartphone. About 92 per cent of black adults and 90 per cent of whites own a cellphone. Similarly, about 56 per cent of blacks own a smartphone, while 53 per cent of whites are smartphone owners.

The report is based on data that Princeton Survey Research Associates International collected between July and September 2013 from more than 6,000 adults ages 18 and older.