Mississippi Winn has 54 friends on Facebook. She enjoys all the benefits that having a broadband connection and joining a social network provides: communicating with family and reconnecting with friends. One interesting thing about Mississippi: she’s 113 years old! Yes, Facebook is now an online community of not only the young but also a rapidly growing number of older adults.
Today, I’m launching a new effort to promote broadband adoption by the older adult community. Project GOAL (the Project to Get Older Adults Online) will help work with aging organizations to communicate the importance of getting our older community online. It’s clear that having high-speed Internet at home can offer older individuals so many benefits: telemedicine, the convenience and savings of shopping at home, entertainment, health information, and of course social networking! Yet, only 35% of older adults (65 and older) have broadband at home – and the numbers drop considerably in even older age brackets.
For older adults, there are significant barriers to going online. First, many just don’t see the value of the Internet. While most of us have a hard time prying our fingers off our online devices, recognizing the relevance to daily life is an important part of getting older adults to start adopting broadband. Communicating about all the great things you can do and experience online is one objective of Project GOAL. A second reason for older adults lower adoption of broadband is a lack of comfort with computers. Older individuals may need help with learning how to use technology. While “cutting and pasting” is second nature to most of us, my 87 year-old Dad thought I meant to go get the scissors and Elmer’s glue! Finally, older adults are worried that bad things can happen on the Internet. Offering tools and information regarding online safety, security and privacy for older adults is an important part of an effort to promote broadband adoption for the aging community.
The government is committed to increasing broadband adoption in our country. The Federal Communications Commission recently released its National Broadband Plan, “a bold roadmap for the future of the Internet in America, a plan to connect America to affordable, high speed broadband. Project Goal shares this objective, focusing on connecting our older folks!
Check out Project GOAL’s website at www.theprojectgoal.org . We hope to see a time soon when there are many more folks like Mississippi Winn joining Facebook, connecting with friends and family and surfing the net to expand their opportunities. Broadband offers so many benefits to the aging population – Project GOAL will be working to help Get Older Adults onLine!