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Internet, Cell Phone Services More Important Than Ever, but Americans Worry About Paying for Them

A Pew study shows that although many find these services essential during the pandemic, affordability is an issue, particularly for Hispanics.

By Chandra Steele

The pandemic started nearly a year ago, and technology has been a lifeline through it for many. But months and months of Zoom calls later, the world is still adjusting to life lived mostly online.

A Pew Research Center study found that about a month into COVID-19 quarantine in the United States, 87% of adults believed the internet had been important for them during the outbreak, with 53% calling it essential. As a way to see friends and family, attend school, conduct work, order supplies, and stay entertained, it is hard to imagine what the mental and physical impact of its absence would be.

Yet many do face that, particularly as unemployment climbs and federal assistance amounts to nearly nothing. As COVID-19 has spread, and with the prospect of a long winter ahead, affording broadband and cell phone service is becoming harder and harder. Twenty-eight percent of broadband users are worried a lot or some about paying broadband bills, and 30% of smartphone users have some or a lot of worry about paying their phone bill. These issues are particularly prevalent for the Hispanic population, with over half surveyed expressing anxiety over those bills.

COVID-19 has highlighted a multitude of iniquities in society, and the digital divide is on that list. As technology becomes more important in our lives, it’s also become another avenue that is closed off to too many.

Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com.

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