When you look at national, state and local statistics on who is online and who isn’t, the elderly always seem to make the list on the far edge of the digital divide – especially low-income seniors. In May, the Benton Foundation and Connected Living hosted a conference of evaluators, practitioners and policymakers to talk about getting seniors online. They have recently published a report on their findings.
The report stresses the importance of including seniors in the digital economy – as they point out, but 2015 there will be more people over 60 than under 15. A couple of strategies were suggested:
- Get seniors to work with seniors. A panel at the conference discussed successful projects where seniors have provided training for other seniors.
- Make broadband affordable. The report also notes that seniors are hesitant to sign multi-year contracts. Shorter term contracts could help increase adoption. Two national efforts were also mentioned: FCC’s Lifeline and the Affordable Care Act. Both could be potential sources of support to low-income seniors.
- Tie broadband to healthcare. Reduction in healthcare cost could be a potential return on investment and in training some seniors note healthcare as an interest. “Going to where the seniors are” is practice suggested as well, and many seniors are into healthcare.