Immigrants use mobile technology more than overall U.S. population, local study finds - Technical.ly Philly

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Jan. 28, 2013 10:00 am

Immigrants use mobile technology more than overall U.S. population, local study finds

Immigrants are “more robust, interactive users” of mobile technology than the overall U.S. population, according to a study by the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians. They are more likely to use their phones to do things like pay their bills, video chat and upload photos (see above graph). The Welcoming Center, a nonprofit that works […]

Immigrants are “more robust, interactive users” of mobile technology than the overall U.S. population, according to a study by the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians. They are more likely to use their phones to do things like pay their bills, video chat and upload photos (see above graph).

The Welcoming Center, a nonprofit that works to connect immigrants with business opportunities, conducted a survey of nearly 120 local immigrants from various regions of the world, asking them about their mobile technology habits and comparing their findings to a Pew report.

Read the whole report here [pdf].

Researcher Amanda Bergson-Shilcock said she conducted the study because of the lack of available data on immigrants and how they interact with mobile technology. She acknowledged that the sample size was small but said that she worked with a statistician in order to only present findings that were statistically salient and relevant. She hopes to expand her research but that depends on funding opportunities, she said.

The story on mobile is that web-enabled phones are serving as a digital divide intermediary for a variety of communities that are adopting personal computers and laptops at a lower rate than the national average: think black and Hispanic neighborhoods and many low-income residents. While mobile access can bring people into the online conversation — hence the great app explosion — there are concerns about how effective mobile technology can be in offering more robust media literacy and for doing larger tasks like applying for jobs.

In short, as the world crosses 1 billion smartphone users, we’re seeing growth domestically for immigrants and other populations at-risk for falling behind in a sluggish economy, but we’re not quite sure what the long tail impact will be in the bigger digital access conversation.

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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes became Technical.ly's associate editor after reporting on the Philadelphia tech scene for four years. She's co-president of the Asian American Journalists Association Philadelphia chapter and a two-time Philadelphia News Award winner for "Community Reporting of the Year." The Bryn Mawr College grad lives in West Philly, likes her food spicy and wears jumpsuits often.

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