The New Demos of ‘Gadget Ownership’

As ownership of electronic devices has proliferated, talk of a vast “digital divide” along ethnic lines has largely fallen by the wayside. A new report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, based on August-September polling, indicates why that’s the case.

Fifty-three percent of the survey’s whites reported owning a laptop computer, as did 45 percent of non-Hispanic black and 50 percent of Hispanic respondents. Similarly, 47 percent of whites, 46 percent of non-Hispanic blacks and 43 percent of Hispanics said they own an MP3 player.

The wider digital divide is by age group. For example, 67 percent of the 30-49-year-olds own a desktop computer, vs. 39 percent of the 65-plusers.

Despite talk that older folks have begun using some of their free time to play videogames, the disparity was even wider when it comes to ownership of game consoles. Sixty-two percent of 18-29s and 61 percent of 30-49s own one (or more). But the number drops to 25 percent among the 50-64s and to 6 percent among the 65-plusers. The chart gives a broader picture of what the report terms “gadget ownership.”