Digital Inequality on the US-Mexico Border: A Multigenerational Case Study in Laredo, Texas

Keywords: digital divide, Laredo Texas, US-Mexico border, multigenerational study.


The purpose of the present study is to determine the cultural and social barriers that are preventing Laredoans from accessing the digital world. This multigenerational study examines how three generations within 16 families relate culturally and socially to technology. Three members from the same family were invited to voluntarily participate in the study, with a total of 48 in-depth, face-to-face interviews being conducted. The present study identified several barriers such as low educational level, low income, lack of English language proficiency, lack of relevant content available in other languages besides English, preference to communicate face-to-face, fear of violence, and endless working hours. Laredo is the least connected city in the nation with 40.2% non-connectivity rate. Research is needed to understand this digital inequity situation in this borderland city. The theoretical framework used is rooted on Straubhaar’s concepts of techno-field, techno-disposition, and techno-capital.
María de los Ángeles Flores
Assistant professor at The University of Texas at El Paso. She teaches a variety of courses within the Multimedia Journalism sequence and earned a Ph.D. in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin. Flores has published scholarly work in English and Spanish in several international journals. Currently, she is also Research Associate for the U.S. research group of the Ibero-American Television Fiction Observatory (OBITEL), an international research project on television fiction. Research areas: cross-cultural journalism, journalism trends, political communication, and television studies. Recent publications: Flores, María de los Ángeles, & Ramírez, Miguel Timoshenkov. (2016). Integración de las herramientas digitales al periodismo multimedia en Tamaulipas: Estudio de caso de la cámara fotográfica, la grabadora de voz digital y la tableta. Revista Contextualizaciones Latinoamericanas, 8(14), 1-16.
Viviana Rojas
Chilean. Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Texas at San Antonio and obtained her Bachelor in Journalism and Master in Social Communication at the Universidad de Chile. Research areas: international migration, cultural adaptation, and Latinos in the United States. Her most recent publication on the topic of Latinos and media is a book chapter on The Routledge Companion to Latina/o Media titled “Voices from the Borderlands: Young Latinos discuss the impact that culture and identity have on their media consumption” (2016).
Joseph Straubhaar
Amon G. Carter Centennial Professor of Communications in the Department of Radio-TV-Film at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the current Director of the Moody College of Communications’ Latino and Latin American Studies Program. His primary teaching, research and writing interests: global media, digital media and the digital divide in the U. S. and other countries, Brazilian and Latin American television, media and migration, and global television production and flow. Publications: Rojas, V., Straubhaar, J., Spence, J., Roychowdhury, D., Okur, O., Pinon, J. & Fuentes-Bautista, M. (2011). Comunidades, Capital Cultural I Inclusão Digital: Acompanhando as Tendĕncias Technológicas numa Década. Media e Journalism, 10(2), 15-38.