When It Comes to Internet Access, Latinos Are Still #Losing

So if Latinos are accessing social media and using their smartphones so much why should we care about falling behind in broadband access?

Elianne Ramos — spokesperson for Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) and a Latina social media queen herself (with almost 30,000 Twitter followers) — is the first to note that a smartphone isn't a perfect substitute for a home internet connection and social media won't provide for every need.

"We must look at what Latinos are using mobile technology for. Only a small percentage are using it as a powerful learning tool. Most are using it only for social interactions and entertainment," Ramos said. Only certain kinds of information are easily consumable through a smartphone. Health information, news, and job applications, for example, might be better accessed from a home computer than from the small screen. Above all, however, both Ramos and Llorenz believe that Latinos must close the broadband access divide so that they can participate in a booming multi-billion dollar tech industry. Ramos says Latinos cannot become creators of digital content without adopting broadband technologies.

Less than one percent of the tech entrepreneurs who received venture capital in the first half of last year are Latino, Llorenz estimated based on a study by research firm CB insights.

"Tech is the future of our economy. It's not in the manufacturing sector anymore. That means in order to thrive, Latinos have to be prepared to participate in those opportunities and create jobs for ourselves in that sector," Llorenz said.

"The Instagram guys just sold their company and made a billion dollars," he added. "The question in my mind right now is, 'How do we get our students to be the next Instagram guys?'"

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