Blacks Turn to Internet, and Digital Divide Starts to Close

There’s an interesting article in the New York Times today (full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/31/us/31divide.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin) indicating that more African-Americans are going online and therefore closing the "digital divide" that was once thought to be a roadblock to the success of this community. Here’s a quick overview:

  • African-Americans, even those at the lower end of the economic scale, are making significant gains in online adoption.
  • Organizations that serve African-Americans are turning to the Internet to reach out to them.
  • The sharpest growth is among young people but blacks of various ages are increasing usage as well.
  • Even though the divide is diminishing, overall Internet use among blacks still significantly trails use among whites. Education levels and household income are the strongest indicators of who is online.

This is a trend worth keeping our eye on. There’s tremendous potential here for the American Cancer Society to take advantage of the online space to reach this traditionally underserved community. Interestingly, the article mentions that Hispanics, who are also affected by a tremendous digital divide, are not making the same gains that the African-American community is experiencing.

The challenge to us will be to find out where the majority of traffic lies, how to effectively communicate our message once we have found some viable real estate, and to attract this audience to our online resources — and, of course, to make sure that our online resources meet the needs of this community.

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