Editor’s Note: Our thanks to Debra Berlyn, Executive Director of Project GOAL, for writing today’s post.
I recently made a new friend on my social network. Like many people in the United States and around the world, she enjoys all the benefits of having a broadband connection and participating in a social network, including communicating with family and reconnecting with friends and loved ones. But one thing sets the Louisiana woman apart from your average Internet user: She’s 113 years old, which makes her the oldest living person in Louisiana and the 11th oldest living person in the world. Yes, going online and surfing the net is not just for the young, but also a rapidly growing number of older adults.
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 percent of older adults (age 65 and older) have broadband at home -– and the numbers drop considerably in even older age brackets. That’s why I’m excited to announce the launch of a new effort to promote broadband adoption by the older adult community. Project GOAL (the Project to Get Older Adults onLine) will work with aging organizations to communicate the importance of getting our older community online.
For older adults, there are significant barriers to becoming Web-savvy. First, many just don’t see the value of the Internet. While most of us have a hard time prying our fingers off our computer keyboards and mobile devices, recognizing the Internet’s 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 lower broadband adoption rates by older adults is a lack of comfort with computers. Older individuals may need help learning how to use technology. While "cutting and pasting" is second nature to most of us, my 87 year-old Dad thought such a task requires 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 any effort to promote broadband adoption for the aging community.
Government agencies in the United States and elsewhere are committed to increasing broadband adoption. In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission recently released its National Broadband Plan, which was described as "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 individuals.
Check out Project GOAL’s web site at www.theprojectgoal.org. We hope to see a time in the near future when there are many more older adults connecting with friends and family, searching for important health and community information, and surfing the Internet to expand their opportunities.
Project GOAL was launched on April 6, 2010.