A broad study released this week by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Internet & American Life Project indicates that when it comes to Latin's accessing the Internet, language is the key.

Latins make up 14% of the U.S. population, according to Census figures. A little more than half of them (56%) use the Internet, compared to 71% of non-Hispanic whites and 60% of non-Hispanic blacks. The discrepancy is largely the result of language and education.

Most dramatic, 78% of Latinos who are English dominant, and 76% of those who are bilingual use the Internet. But only 32% of Spanish dominant adults do so.

"What surprised us most was how strong the association is with language," says study co-author Susannah Fox.

Language, of course, is also associated with education and socio economic status. Eighty nine percent of Latin college graduates used the Internet, while only 31% of Latinos that didn't complete high school go online. Likewise, 76% of U.S. born Latinos use the Internet, versus only 43% of foreign-born who do so.

And, while Latins of Mexican origin are the largest U.S.-Latin population, accounting for 65% of the total, only 52% of them go online. This fact held steady, even when taking into account other factors like age, language, income and nativity. Likewise, Latins of South American decent have the highest rate of Internet use (70%) -- a number that remains relatively constant even when accounting for higher education rates among that sector.

Finally, only 29% of Latinos have broadband connections at home, although, 79% have some kind of Internet connection (compared to 92% non-Hispanic whites).

The study, titled "Latinos Online," was written by Fox and Gretchen
Livingston. It is based on telephone surveys of 6,016 Latino adults (18 and older), conducted in Spanish and English from June to October of 2006.