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computers, broadband, and social networking

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computers, broadband, and social networking

Broadband access for all -- are we there yet?

Broadband penetration among adults in the US – is the job done? According to Parks Associates, 88% of US households have broadband. Do you find that confusing? Startling in the face of all of the state and government initiatives to connect more households? Minimum speed issues possibly going to be revised? What speeds are they talking about? Watch a Netflix movie? Participate in a zoom call? Not exactly. Turns out the current speed definitions “aren’t high enough to do anything.” Not a single area of West Virginia is properly served, according to that June 25, 2021 article. Colorado, Virginia – same complaint. Slow speed access is akin to no-speed access. Moving slowly past the speed issue – gets you to the adoption problem for older adults. What’s that you say? 22 million older adults, or 42% of the 65+ population, lack wireline broadband? Shouldn't that matter?

The A’s have it: Amazon and Apple surprise/dismay this week

Apple recognizes that aging is at the core of a device/health strategy.  Several features were announced at Apple’s developer conference this week that were specifically relevant for an older demographic. Perhaps that population, likely aged 70+, may not (yet) have an iPhone or an Apple Watch. Noting the tech adoption gaps cited by AARP (wearables) and Pew (smartphones), Apple wants to change that, whether via family member gifts and/or pressure, possibly from healthcare providers. iPhones will offer real-time assessment of walking steadiness and fall risk, based on balance, stability and coordination while carrying the phone, not the watch. In addition, Apple added ‘opt-in’ health data sharing with other iOS users, such as aging parents, so that caregivers or family can see any worrisome trends like fall risk. No, data can’t be shared with Android or PC users. Why not, since, oddly, those users can launch a FaceTime call? Just because.  

AARP Urges Older Americans Struggling to Access and Afford High-Speed Internet to Enroll in New Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

05/12/2021

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- A recent AARP survey found many Americans age 50+ struggle to access and afford high-speed internet. According to the study, 15% of adults 50+ do not have access to any type of internet and 60% say the cost of high-speed internet is a problem. The findings underscore the potential impact of a new Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) launched today by the Federal Communications Commission.

Check Out Tech Surveys: Four Blog Posts from April, 2021

April 2021 – the season for tech surveys.  Tech adoption continues apace.  If the new AARP Tech Trends of the 50+ and Pew Mobile Fact Sheet surveys were representative, fewer and fewer older adults are missing out on technology use. Unfortunately, both of these surveys band upper age responders into age 70+ and 65+ respectively – so it is impossible to detect what the Real Seniors aged 75+ are using. Today there are at least 23 million people in the US age 75+.  Don’t they deserve a demographic sub-category? Especially given the bad news from the January Humana report stating that 22 million aged 65+ lack broadband and thus miss a great deal. Are they living alone? In rural areas?  What if a government agency wanted to provide them with a free broadband plan, a smartphone and smart watch, how would they be located?

AARP 2021 Tech Trends Survey -- is the tech glass half empty?

First the ‘good news’ about tech adoption…  According to AARP’s newest technology adoption report, just published, older adults are positive about the role technology can play in their lives during and after Covid-19. They are chatting via video, using social media livestreams and modernizing their technology. They are buying smart TVs, costly smartphones, and earbuds.  The survey reports that 20% of the 70+ age range owns a wearable, possibly a smartwatch. Also notable, considering that most wearables are still paired with them, smartphone ownership, according to this survey, has risen most sharply among those aged 70+, with 77% of responders indicating they own one. This is a number worth questioning, however, since Pew Research's most recent mobile fact sheet indicates that only 61% of the 65+ have smartphones.

PEW: 25% of seniors age 65+ are not online. That's a problem.

Pew Research just published its periodic survey about Internet use. Let’s assume consensus that growing the percentage of those using the Internet was a social good. Let’s assume that many are now concerned that older adults may have missed vaccine sign-up opportunities without access to the Internet.  Pew’s survey categories included: Age, Rural/Urban, Male-Female, Income, Race, and Education.  The result is pretty much ho-hum – if you look only at the headline – 7% of Americans Don’t use the Internet.  Let’s say that 77% of the American population are adults (using Census data). Translating the Pew number to non-users of the Internet  results in nearly 23 million people.  Not a trivial number.  Too bad there were no correlations between Age, Education, Income with Internet use.  But we can guess what we could find.

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