Older adults represent a large percentage of the Americans who have not yet adopted broadband. In a 2015 Statista Research and Analysis survey, 41 percent of adults, ages 65 years and over, said they do not use the internet at all. Many seniors are not using broadband internet for a number of reasons, including affordability, accessibility, intermittent service and lack of technical skills.
In aiming to close the digital gap among senior citizens, the non-profit organization Project GOAL is focused on ensuring everyone receives high quality, affordable and accessible broadband. The organization promotes and encourages adoption of broadband services by older adults and brings attention to digital literacy challenges within the older community.
Broadband adoption is important. Broadband access in rural communities is more difficult to obtain, thus leaving many seniors with a feeling of isolation. Smartphones have helped some older Americans feel more connected, yet many others still do not use their smartphones for more than just texting, sending emails or making phone calls.
Access to the internet can help older individuals obtain information, buy goods and services for home delivery, and track health issues and healthcare needs. Project GOAL is working in conjunction with several companies including AARP, AT&T, Comcast and Charter Communications to making future plans to help bridge the gap in digital literacy and adoption, especially among senior citizens.
Several programs have been launched either by telecom companies or through partnerships between corporations and government entities. While targeting seniors, many of these partnerships have worked through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, SNAP, and Medicare programs. They’re offering discounted service to low-income families and seniors, such as $5 -$10/month for 10 Mbps packages for $5 or $10 a month. Project GOAL reaches out to seniors through churches, care givers, housing organizations and grocery stores to develop training programs that increase digital literacy.