"Hispanics are ahead of the digital curve" according to a new report from Nielsen, which found that the average Latino is more likely to own a smartphone and frequently use cutting-edge digital media on the internet.

Nielsen's newest report on "The Digital Consumer" in the U.S. features an amalgam of new statistics tracking how the average U.S. consumer spends their time with digital devices and media. Nielsen, best known as one of the most important voices in television ratings, also tracks how audiences engage with new media on the internet -- something that market researchers for companies big and small take into account to grow their businesses. 

In the report released on Monday, one of Nielsen's biggest findings is that Latinos in the U.S. are the audience of the future, compared with the general U.S. population.

Some of the things U.S. Latinos are engaging with -- far more than the general audience, according to Nielsen -- include using gaming consoles, watching videos on the internet, subscribing to and using a mobile video service, and owning smartphones:

"Hispanic consumers have rapidly adopted multiple-screens into their daily video viewing routines and represent 47 million traditional TV viewers in the U.S. and growing. Latinos adopt smartphones at a higher rate than any other demographic group and watch more hours of videos online and on their mobile phones than the average American."

Latinos and the Second Screen

Hispanic consumers are using so-called "second screens" more than any other group, according to Nielsen. Second screen viewing involves using a smartphone, tablet, or computer along with traditional television watching. The report says that Hispanic consumers spend an average of more than eight hours watching online video each month, which is over an hour and half more than the U.S. average.

Latinos' online streaming reflects the general upward trend of streaming video and using mobile digital devices -- especially with younger audiences 18-24 years old -- but Latinos are at the forefront.

Mobile Ownership

Nielsen also found that Latinos are leading the trend in mobile ownership. According to the report, Latinos in the U.S. are adopting smartphones "at a higher rate than any other demographic group." Nearly three quarters (72 percent) of Latinos own smartphones, which is close to 10 percent higher than the average in the U.S.

This confirms a trend spotted by the Pew Research Center earlier in 2013, which we previously reported also showed Hispanic smartphone ownership as higher than the national average. But the statistic has only climbed since Pew reported about 60 percent Latino smartphone ownership, compared to the 56 percent average.

Not surprisingly, given Latinos' smartphone fever, Nielsen found that 10 million Latinos watch video on their mobile phones for an average of more than six hours per month -- likely leading, at least partially, to Latinos' mobile data usage being 16 percent higher than the national average. It should be noted that many low-income Latinos own smartphones as their only means of using the internet -- which does not necessarily bridge the digital divide -- so not all statistics on Latinos are completely positive.

However, Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in spending power, and it shows in the Nielsen report. Nearly half of Latinos (49 percent) said they were planning on replacing or upgrading their smartphone within the next six months -- a trend that wireless companies have been attempting to match with early-upgrade and pre-paid unlocked mobile phone programs. Nielsen also found that Latinos are also twice as likely as the average U.S. consumer to upgrade their tablets in the next half-year.

Gaming, Social Media, Shopping, and Mobile

With 15 percent of America's adult population being Latinos (and growing), Nielsen's report found that 12 percent of all mobile shoppers are Hispanic, and 20 percent of people using social media via mobile apps are also Latinos. That's a big percentage of an overall market that is growing faster than other technologies, like web-based social media, and companies like Facebook and Twitter know it

Here's Nielsen's infographic on other Latino tech trends that are outpacing the general population:

Digital Is Growing

Nielsen's report wasn't specifically about Latinos and digital media, even though they found Latinos to be such a break-out demographic that they decided to spotlight that audience in their report.

Other general findings of the Nielsen Digital Consumer report include that Americans now own four digital devices on average -- with the average consumer spending 60 hours a week consuming internet content across all devices. Most U.S. households now own high-definition televisions, computers, and smartphones, with 47 percent of smartphone owners using social media every day.

"The number of digital devices and platforms available to today's consumers has exploded in recent years," concludes Nielsen. "As a result, today's consumer is more connected than ever, with more access to and deeper engagement with content and brands. And these changes are contributing to the media revolution and blurring traditional media definitions." Latinos, lead the charge.