During Digital Inclusion Week (Oct. 3-7), which aims to raise awareness of solutions addressing digital equity, Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) from AARP released a report, “Fly Like an Eagle: Measuring Transformational Social Outcomes Among Seniors Using Technology.” The report details how access to technology devices and innovative training programs can yield transformational social outcomes for older adults and provides a blueprint for cities and communities looking to implement their own digital inclusion programs.
The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative is also recognizing Digital Inclusion Week by highlighting the work of partners on Twitter and through promoting our Digital Equity Resources webpage. MHAC, along with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, is also cohosting an upcoming meeting of the Technology Learning Collaborative for Healthy Aging on October 17th (register here). The presentations are open to any stakeholder interested in promoting digital equity among older adults.
OATS estimates that nearly 22 million older Americans remain on the wrong side of the digital divide, lagging behind the general population by double digits on most measures of technology utilization. The quantitative findings of their new report present strong evidence that technology interventions can play a significant role in driving behavioral change for older adults: combating social isolation, loneliness and depression – all while improving quality of life.
Researchers found that older adults who received technology training:
- Felt more connected to family and friends: About 60% of participants in the study “strongly agreed” that receiving their tablet helped them to feel more connected with family members. While nearly 88% of participants who took the supplemental technology course that came with their tablet said they felt more connected to their family and friends.
- Felt less depressed and lonely: Nearly twice as many seniors in the control group reported feeling depressed as compared to those who took the supplemental technology course.
These findings are particularly relevant given the Federal Government’s $2.75 billion dollar Digital Equity Act. This funding presents a historic opportunity to close the digital divide among older adults, ensuring they have the skills, technology, and access to participate in our digital economy.