The mobile Internet and digital citizenship in African-American and Latino communities

Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, Christopher Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Smartphone use is transforming the meaning of being online, especially for African-Americans and Latinos. To what extent has this enabled these populations to become digital citizens, able to participate in society online? Internet use is increasingly important for the exercise of the political, economic and social rights that have often been associated with citizenship [Mossberger, K., Tolbert, C. J., & McNeal, R. S. (2008). Digital citizenship: The Internet, society, and participation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press], and can be measured by the political and economic activities that individuals engage in online. Using unique survey data from a diverse city, we use multilevel analysis and interactions to examine relationships between forms of access and activities online in 2013, controlling for neighborhood context as well as individual characteristics. In contrast with prior work, we find that while broadband access is most strongly associated with political and economic activities online, that mobile is as well. The effects are strongest for African-Americans and Latinos, especially for Latinos who live in heavily Latino neighborhoods–who have lagged behind furthest in Internet use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1587-1606
Number of pages20
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 3 2017


  • Digital divide
  • digital citizenship
  • mobile technology
  • segregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences


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