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A Guide to Internet for Seniors

Seniors that fear using the internet because they have never experienced it is possibly one reason that so many seniors still do not have internet access. The Senior List presents this senior internet guide that helps seniors understand internet use for seniors, how to find internet service in your area, along with possible discounts for seniors.

Exploring, learning about and experiencing the internet is likely not as difficult as some seniors possibly assume it is, mainly because they have never had internet service in their home. Discover how easy it is to learn about the internet, why the number of seniors using the internet is on the rise and how to stay safe online with this guide from The Senior List.

What Can Seniors Do on the Internet?

Seniors use the internet for a variety of reasons which help them stay informed and learn new information. Learn about health conditions, make new friends, keep in touch with family members, pay bills, conduct banking, shop online, and access your medical records, play video games, or take classes on the internet.

Some seniors likely watch their favorite television shows, order food online, enjoy social media, or look for information about entertainment venues in their area. There are likely an endless number of activities for seniors that use the internet today.

Do Many Seniors Use the Internet?

The Pew Research Center explored the use of technology among seniors compared to other adults in 2014, along with technology use among seniors within senior age groups. What they found was that two different groups emerged among seniors when researching technology.

The group consisting mostly of younger seniors, individuals with higher education or seniors that are more affluent were more likely to have a positive attitude towards going online and experiencing the internet. The other group, typically consisting of older seniors with more health issues than the other group, with less affluence, were more likely to demonstrate both a physical and psychological disconnect from technology, including the internet.

Study results at the time revealed that an estimated 59 percent of seniors, 65 years of age and older, reported using the internet, with 44 percent indicating that they had a broadband connection at home.

A 2017 Pew Research study revealed that 67 percent of seniors reportedly use the internet, with 51 percent of seniors indicating that they have an internet connection in their home. One aspect that remains the same is that younger seniors tend to use the internet more often than older seniors.

Seniors that do not have an internet connection in their home potentially choose not to purchase internet service because of a lack of knowledge about the internet and because of fear of cost of the service.

Where Do Seniors Learn to Use the Internet?

Engaging in new experiences possibly presents a challenge for some adults of all ages, not just seniors. Seniors often have adult children that help them learn how to use the internet. Grandchildren are often savvy internet users. A trusted neighbor or friend is another source of help when trying to learn about the internet.

Many communities have free internet classes at the local library. Some seniors take classes online, including classes that inform adults about basic and advanced internet use.

Many laptop computers sold today provide information about the programs loaded onto the computer, with step-by-step instructions about using the computer and internet.

How Much Does Internet Service Cost for Seniors?

The cost of internet service is potentially a reason that some seniors do not have internet service in their home. Sara Ashley O’Brien, a CNN Money contributor, reveals that the feared cost of internet service is one of the reasons that some seniors still do not have internet service. The article cites the Pew Research findings that 87 percent of seniors earning more than $75,000 a year had broadband service, while only 27 percent of seniors with an annual income of less than $30,000 reported having home broadband service.

There are several opportunities for seniors to have internet service at home at an affordable cost. There are programs specifically for seniors that provide internet service at a reduced cost through some internet service providers. Programs and availability of programs in different areas vary so check with your local internet service provider about senior discounts in your area.

Contact Comcast for information about its Internet Essentials plan if Comcast serves your area. The program offers no credit checks, no long-term contracts and free installation for seniors that have not had the service within the previous three months. The company offers free basic internet classes to eligible seniors that choose Comcast.

Spectrum offers a discount that applies to all eligible customers, including seniors, through its Internet Assist program. Low income households enjoy a discount on high speed internet service and other optional add-on services. Some seniors save by bundling their home phone, cable, and internet service as a Spectrum customer, or as a customer of another internet provider offering bundle discounts to consumers.

AT&T offers low cost internet to eligible customers that meet income guidelines, along with other program requirements. Experience savings through the AT&T internet program that features no long-term contracts or activation fees.

Cox also offers a number of low cost internet options that accommodate the needs of seniors.

Some internet providers provide discounts or programs in certain areas. Check with internet providers in your area for discounts or savings for seniors.

Seniors and Internet Scams

One serious caution for seniors using the internet concerns scams that target seniors online. The National Cyber Security Alliance warns that some scammers specifically target seniors using the internet. Learn about these scams and how to avoid them to safely use the internet and avoid schemes to steal your money or identity.

One common scam is the romance scam. Seniors fall target to individuals that create an online relationship with the vulnerable senior. The scammer claims that they really like, or love, the targeted senior.

The love interest has a problem. The love interest took a job overseas and now has to pay a fee to get home. Another common story involves getting arrested for a crime they did not commit and the love interest needs to pay bail, or they face jail time. These, and similar stories, often result in seniors sending thousands of dollars to the non-existent romantic interest.

Internet security fraud and other online crimes target seniors. Seniors get telephone calls or messages on their computer that their computer has a virus and there is a fee of several hundred dollars for the technical support person contacting the senior to remove the virus. The company that made your computer does not call individuals with virus reports or prevent them from using their computer unless they pay money.

Seniors that know about common scams and how to avoid them have a safer internet experience.

The number of seniors using the internet and that have internet service in their home continues to increase for seniors of all ages. Although younger seniors tend to use the internet more often than older seniors, there is no need for any senior to fear using the internet.

Affordable internet programs and services often makes home internet accessible for seniors on a fixed budget. Free internet classes help seniors learn to use the internet at their own pace, allowing seniors the opportunity to become more technologically advanced, and explore everything that the internet offers, in the comfort of their own home.