COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A recent report by the Ohio Commission on Hispanic Latino Affairs recently showed digital divide in Hispanic and Latino communities in Ohio. One of the main issues they are facing during the Coronavirus Pandemic is high-speed internet in rural areas.
The Digital Divide and Access to Information: A Focus on Ohio Hispanic/Latino Community shows those communities primarily use the internet on their mobile devices. Many of those families in rural areas do not have laptops or computers to use. They have found that using those mobile devices are more affordable, but this also presents additional challenges of its own.
“The reliance on smartphones has an impact among younger crowds of Hispanic Ohioans and brings hardships when completing education requirements this school year. Not all papers and assignments can be completed using a mobile device or often outdated computers. Also, a lack of reliable internet access can make it hard to connect, stream, and send in assignments on time,” the report explained.
Nora Hess, a program assistant at the Ohio State University says this report serves as a call to action for leaders in the community.
“Some people are struggling to put food on the table and they think the internet is a luxury but right now it’s not,” said Hess.
She teaches a nutritional class and says a lot of families have trouble connecting to the internet. Additionally, she says she would like to see the internet considered as an essential utility.
The Ohio Latino Commission Hispanic Latino Affairs says they have partnered with the governor’s office to meet the demand. The Lt. Governor is using InnovativeOhio to meet those needs.
However, even with the internet, comes one additional need for bilingual resources. Especially as the 2020 Census is in full swing. The Census Bureau has made efforts to partner with social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and community organizations to stop the spread of disinformation campaigns. The Census Bureau has stated that they are taking the following strategies to address those threats:
- Working with social media platforms such as Facebook, Microsoft, Nextdoor, Google, and Pinterest to update their policies and terms of service to include census-specific activities;
- Coordinating with YouTube and Twitter to create processes enabling us to quickly identify and respond to misinformation and disinformation;
- Collaborating with other government agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission to protecteveryone, and especially the elderly, from scammers pretending to represent the Census Bureau;
- Working with civil society organizations such as the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and NALEO Educational Fund to ensure they have the resources necessary to combat misinformation and disinformation in targeted communities to promote participation in the 2020 Census
- Working with the Better Business Bureau and AARP to protect consumers against possible scams and fraud during the count.
As far as the Primary Elections, they have teamed up with the Secretary of State Frank LaRose to translate key voter resources into Spanish and because minority groups are the most vulnerable to malicious information, especially on social media, The Commission will continue its work by focusing on efforts that:
- Support efforts to decrease the digital divide in Ohio and increase access to technology;
- Support policies that combat disinformation and work to increase voter engagement and civic participation;
- Build partnerships with state and local governments to develop outreach and communication strategies that address the unique needs of ethnic minorities and LEP to make multilingual resources the new normal;
- Promote the utilization of websites and social media to effectively distribute information;
- Increase outreach and education regarding cybersecurity geared to Latinos and ethnic
- Utilize social media to build communication and feedback channels; and
- Encourage the engagement of minorities through their trusted channels to increase their
- civic participation including elections, the census, and public health maintenance efforts.
For the full report by the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/ Latino Affairs click here.