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Ethnic Minorities Make More Serious Use of Computers Than Their White Neighbours

Originally Published 15 October 2003

New research into disadvantaged neighbourhoods by the Universities of Warwick and Leeds for the Department for Education and Skills has found that - although in general ethnic minorities had less access to home computing and the internet than their white neighbours, they tended to use their home computers much more often than white people for educational rather than leisure purposes.

The researchers used data from a survey of over 1500 households, undertaken in areas which were both “deprived” and which had a high concentration of ethnic minority groups. The areas the survey covered were located in: inner and outer London, Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford, Cardiff and Glasgow. The survey found that:

  • African Caribbean people were less likely to own a PC (only 31% of those surveyed) than South Asian (42%) or of White (37%) respondents.
  • However people from minority ethnic groups tended more often to use their home computers for education rather than leisure and entertainment. 73% of people from minority ethnic groups used home computers for educational purposes compared to 61% of white people. In contrast, 68% of white respondents used their PCs for leisure/entertainment purposes, compared to 50% of Black and Minority Ethnic respondents.
  • Despite the fact that South Asian people were more likely than white people to own a PC (42% of South Asians compared to 37% of White respondents), they were actually less likely to have experience of the internet than people from other ethnic groups. Only 38% of south Asians had used the internet compared to 40% of African Caribbean people, 45% of White people and 61% of Chinese and other respondents. South Asians were also less likely than respondents from other ethnic groups to use public internet access facilities.
  • The survey also found that people from minority ethnic groups were much less likely than white people to use their computers to buy goods or services – only 25% of those surveyed compared with to 42% of white survey respondents did so.
  • Only 20% of South Asian people and 26% of African Caribbean people surveyed had used computers to access government or local government provided services on line (compared to 34 per cent of white respondents).
  • Overall, levels of computing skill did not differ greatly between different ethnic groups. 63 per cent of people, from both Black and Minority ethnic and White groups, reported that they had non-existent or beginner- level computing skills. Across all ethnic groups, familiarity with information technology, usage of computers and computing skills declines sharply with increasing age.
For further details please contact:

Dr David Owen, CRER
University of Warwick
Tel: 024 76 524259

Note for editors: The full title of the report is “The Use of and Attitudes Towards Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by People from Black and Minority Ethnic Groups Living in Deprived Areas”, DfES research report 450. The researchers involved were David Owen, Anne E. Green, Mike McLeod, from the University of Warwick’s Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations and the University of Warwick’s Institute for Employment Research, and Ian Law, Tim Challis and David Wilkinson from Leed University's School of Continuing Education and Department of Sociology and Social Policy