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New Census and state numbers show smartphones narrow the digital divide
African Americans in Ohio are now among the state's highest "mobile adopters"

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
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Smartphones are doing a lot to close the digital divide, both nationally and in Ohio. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on what the newest numbers from the Census and from ConnectOhio reveal.

LISTEN: How smartphones are changing internet access

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The Census numbers show about 48 percent of the people in the United States age 15 or older use smartphones, and that the numbers are just about even across races and ethnic groups.

And the Census says that alone has gone a long way to narrow the digital divide – the shorthand for gaps in high-speed internet access.

That trend is reflected in Ohio.

Lyndsey Kleven is spokeswoman for ConnectOhio, a nonprofit charged with boosting connectivity throughout the state. She says overall broadband access jumped 5 percent in Ohio since 2011. But mobile usage surged at an even greater rate – from less than a third of Ohioans to just shy of half. She says her group sees it as a victory.

“Definitely people who don’t have access to this technology, they’re missing out on a lot of opportunities whether its education, healthcare and just the convenience of being able to access the internet, all of the benefits that it provides.”

ConnectOhio says 56 percent of African Americans have smartphones, significantly higher than the population as a whole. 

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