It’s More Than Mere Access

Coverage Type: 

[Commentary] The newly released Pew Research Center’s report, “Older Adults and Technology Use,” shows substantial forward movement in Internet use and broadband adoption by America’s senior population.

However, given the increasingly important role that this 21st century technology plays in all of our lives, it is troubling that 41 percent of seniors still do not use the Internet (compared to 14 percent of all adults), and that 53 percent do not have broadband access where they live (all adults: 30 percent).

The Benton Foundation has been working with Senior Service America, Inc. (SSAI) to address the challenges of bringing senior non-Internet users online. This latest Pew research reaffirms what we’re finding in our work. SSAI conducted a two-year Digital Inclusion Initiative that helped seniors learn to use computers and the Internet. By training 555 participants of its Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) as peer coaches in using software developed by Generations on Line, the Digital Inclusion Initiative (DII) helped more than 26,000 seniors through the end of 2011.

SCSEP peer coaches provided free one-on-one assistance at 355 community-based sites in 16 states, using a non-classroom style, self-paced, peer coaching approach that proved to be very successful with seniors.

It’s More Than Mere Access