Seniors offline is a public health issue – MN age gap is worrying

Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) has commissioned the most comprehensive research study ever undertaken to track older adults and technology use…

This new research presents a detailed portrait of digitally disconnected older adults in America—how many people remain offline, what demographics are disproportionately affected, which barriers continue to perpetuate non-participation, and how existing connectivity resources match up with patterns of need.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Nearly 22 million (42%) of American seniors lack wireline broadband access at home.
  • Loneliness and disengagement are costing lives:
    Over 80% of COVID deaths in the U.S. have been older Americans, and research estimates that about 40% of them were unable to access need online resources because they lacked in-home internet.
  • Lack of internet is a public health crisis:
    Medicaid enrollees are 2.7 times more likely to be offline.
    Those with functional impairments are twice as likely to be offline.
  • Lack of internet is a social justice crisis:
    Older adults with less than a high school degree or an income below $25,000 are ten times more likely than the general population to be offline.
    Black and Latino seniors are more than 2.5 and 3.3 times more likely, respectively, to be offline.

They looked at the gaps between younger and older users, Minnesota did not far well with one of the largest gaps at 20.6 percent.

They do have some recommendations for change:

  1. Publicize and clearly articulate the value of broadband to seniors.
  2. Prioritize social equity and inclusion.
  3. Expand access to low-cost offers.
  4. Develop content, communities and experience for older adults to increase
    utilization of broadband services.