“I don’t even know how to turn this thing on.”

It’s not unusual to hear comments like that from some of the people we work with at OASIS. They are just beginning to learn about the benefits of online activities. It might be hard to believe, but a recent study by Pew Research concluded that 33% of Americans don’t currently have internet at home. Thirty nine percent of these non-adopters are over the age of 65. 

Amy in blog photo

During May, which is Older Americans Month, we are shining a light on this segment of the population with so much to gain by getting online, including connecting with family and friends who increasingly communicate by text message, social media and video calling. Learning to use these channels keeps our seniors in touch, reduces isolation and improves their health and well-being. As a 2014 Michigan State University study found, internet use among older adults can reduce the chances of depression by more than 30 percent.

This month, make it a point to reach out to one senior you know: family member, friend or the neighbor with the cute dog; and see if there are any technology related questions you can answer. You’ll probably be able to assist with basic information, but if you get stumped there are lots of places you can go for answers.

OASIS provides free handouts. You can also encourage your friend or family member to check out the OASIS Connections program. With support from AT&T and others we have enrolled over 100,000 adults nationwide in classes to build skills and confidence using computers, the internet and hand-held devices like smartphones and tablets. AT&T’S Digital You also has tips and resources for seniors and others on how to be safe and responsible online.

If the cost of internet service is a barrier, there are affordable programs nationwide. Just last month, AT&T launched Access from AT&T, which provides an affordable way for low-income consumers in AT&T’s 21-state wireline service areas to take advantage of the opportunities the internet offers. Visit the site to learn more about the program, including qualifications and requirements.

Our mission at OASIS is to see that people across the country have opportunities to pursue vibrant, healthy, productive and meaningful lives. Increasingly, that means staying current with technology. If you help someone #bridgethedigitaldivide share your experiences on Twitter or Facebook. You might just be recruiting a slew of new friends. 

About the Author

Amy VanDeVelde

National Connections Program Manager, The OASIS Institute

Amy VanDeVelde

Amy VanDeVelde happily joined the OASIS Institute in 2012 to oversee the OASIS Connections technology training program.  She is a champion of accessibility, digital citizenship, digital literacy, inclusion and media literacy.  Amy is keenly interested in technology that supports and enhances interpersonal relationships by decreasing social isolation.  She has facilitated and promoted corporate training initiatives for the entirety of her career in the healthcare, high tech, legal and pharmaceutical industries.   Amy holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication from Illinois State University which included a semester studying international communication theory in Salzburg, Austria.  Her minor, Recreation and Park Administration, included a semester studying best practices for delivering services to people with disabilities with Patricia Malik, Ph.D.

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