Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Jan. 3, 2014

Let’s Get Older Adults onLine (Project GOAL)

Executive Director, The Project to Get Older Adults onLine (GOAL)

Project GOAL is the Project to Get Older Adults onLine, helping to show older individuals the value of the Internet – and broadband technology – and how going online improves their daily lives. Project GOAL has also addressed some of the challenges the older community confronts when trying to adopt technology, and continues to work with the diverse community of aging groups, community organizations, government and industry on solutions to the barriers to getting older adults online. 

Today, those 65 and older represent the greatest “digital divide” of any demographic group – only 43% of those 65 and older have broadband (a high speed connection to the Internet) at home compared to 70% of all adults. At the same time, there are so many benefits to going online for older adults. Here are just a few: 

Connecting to Family and Friends 

While social networks may have started with younger generations, it has quickly become a tool older adults use to connect to family and friends across the country – and around the world. Video chatting is almost as good as being there in person when it comes to communicating with out-of-town family members. 

Health, Wellbeing, and Mobile Applications 

While surfing the web provides unlimited information about health, new mobile applications can actually promote improved health maintenance and connect users to medical professionals. Studies have also shown that surfing the Internet actually increases brain activity in older adults – providing the opportunity to improve cognitive thinking as we get older. 

Entertainment 

Older adults also are finding the Internet a great source of fun and entertainment, from playing games online such as bridge and Sudoku, to watching videos. 

And there are so many other great benefits the Internet offers for older adults, including online shopping, the opportunity to work from home, access to government information and forms, and community information. 

Another significant benefit of the Internet is that it helps facilitate aging in place for the older community; older adults can live in their own homes longer and maintain a higher quality of life. 

While the Internet is a world of opportunity, there are also some challenges that older adults confront. First, learning how to use a computer or digital device can be difficult for some in the older community. However, digital literacy tools and classes have been helpful in overcoming this challenge for many individuals. Online safety, security, and privacy issues are also concerns for older online users. Project GOAL has some tips and tools to help these users stay safe online, as well as suggestions for other resources on the topic. 

Here are a few quick tips: 

  • Keep your computer secure: install a firewall, antivirus, antispyware and antispam software – and keep all software current with automatic updates. 
  • Select strong passwords with at least 8 characters with upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols – change every few months. 
  • Learn how to identify email scams and fraudulent websites. Never provide personal financial information in response to unsolicited requests. 
  • Never include your social security number or bank account numbers in the text of an email. 

For more tips and tools, check out Project GOAL’s website. Online users can take advantage of all the great benefits the Internet offers while staying safe, secure and maintaining one’s privacy. With everything that broadband technology has to offer, now is the perfect time for older adults to get online and experience the online world!