Poor internet access hinders Hispanics’ educational success

New report offers recommendations to help Hispanic communities access better resources, opportunities

hispanic-internetHispanic Americans are not meeting the economic, educational, and healthcare successes of other ethnic group peers due to inadequate broadband internet access, according to a recent study by The Hispanic Institute.

Gus West, president of The Hispanic Institute, said: “Without reliable access to the internet, Hispanics cannot participate fully in American society. The best job and educational opportunities have moved online. If Hispanics are to take advantage of them, they’ll need to follow them into cyberspace.”

There are currently about 54 million Hispanics in the United States, according to American Fact Finder, making the ethnic group the largest and fastest growing in the country.

Next page: Can smartphones increase the opportunity for internet access?

According to a recent Pew Hispanic Center survey cited in the report, 95 percent of Latino families with annual incomes of $50,000 or more claim to access the internet at least occasionally in comparison to the 71 percent of Latinos with education less than a high school diploma and incomes of $30,000 or less.

Of Hispanic families with incomes of $50,000 or more, 95 percent own computers. Only 51 percent of Hispanics with less than a high school diploma own computers, while 89 percent of Hispanics with some college education own computers.

Healthcare is also a concern, with Hispanics being the ethnic group with the highest percentage without health insurance at 29.1 percent.

The report attributed this percentage to lower-income jobs without insurance, fear of applying for Affordable Care Act coverage or Medicaid due to the immigration status of an individual or their family, or lack of telecommunications to access healthcare provider websites.

However, two-thirds of Latinos aged 18-29 own a smartphone, which can increase access to career and healthcare information.

Access to a laptop or desktop computer with a quick broadband connection, according to the report, is still the most beneficial way to access online services and information.

This type of internet and equipment access is linked to higher income, which is often connected to higher education.

According to The Hispanic Institute, comprehensive immigration reform that would allow Hispanic immigrants more opportunities in job and education could ultimately lead to better computer and internet access.

“A viable internet connection remains one of the best ways to secure a step forward in this country,” said West. “If Hispanics are to catch up to the economic, educational and healthcare achievements of their peers, policymakers and the telecommunications industry must take steps to expand internet access in Hispanic communities.”

Rebecca Lundberg is an editorial intern with eSchool Media.

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