According to a new survey from the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Internet and American Life Project, Latino adults are increasing their use of the Internet faster than other ethnic groups.
Between 2006 and 2008, the percentage of adult Latinos in the US who used the Internet grew to 64 percent from 54 percent, according to the survey. Among whites, Internet use increased to 76 percent from 72 percent. Blacks saw the smallest overall gain - two percentage points to 63 percent.
The report noted that Latinos who were born in the US were much more likely to go online than those born outside the country. This gap persisted even after accounting for differences in education levels, household income and English proficiency.
Latinos with low incomes went online less than those with higher incomes. But overall, groups that traditionally have had low rates of Internet use were increasingly embracing the Web. In 2006, for example, 31 percent of Latinos without a high school diploma reported going online at least once. In 2008, this number grew to 41 percent.
"The survey results come as no surprise to those in my industry," says John Abbott, CEO of Quepasa Corporation, owner of Quepasa.com, an online social network targeting the Latino community that is 7 million strong.
The site recently announced that it is steadily gaining one million new subscribers each month. The increase has currently propelled Quepasa.com's total membership to 7 million subscribers and has generated 5 million unique visits per month.
"Our impressive growth in membership is attributable to Latinos' distinctive social dynamics and their strong desire to keep close ties with friends and family abroad or simply across town. With many Latino families originally from other countries now uprooted to America, the easiest way for many of them to preserve ties with those back home is to stay connected online," added Abbott.
The boom in internet usage in America is part of a larger trend among Hispanics worldwide. In Latin America, the use of social networks in cyberspace has increased 83.3 percent over the past year, according to a study by the Spanish consulting group Tendencias Digitales. Online social networks are on course to repeat the phenomenon in the Spanish-language market, which boasts 47.5 million Web users, according to the group.