Do you know a Digital Exile? There’s a special invitation to a webinar on Dec. 16 below and they can join by phone…or you can be a real friend and help them find a way to join online…and maybe help them win a laptop!
“I don’t have email. Or Internet.”
When an acquaintance told me this, I had to print out a hard copy of a document and hand-deliver it to her. What an unnecessary headache…but an understandable one.
I can relate
Fifteen years ago, for professional reasons, I absolutely had to learn how to send and receive email. However, I suffered from “digiphobia” – digital fear and anxiety – just like my acquaintance. I was a digital exile.
It took my geeky friend, Jay, to help me realize I had made matters far more complicated in my mind than they are in reality.
Take email – it took Jay less that 20 minutes to teach me to open an email account and learn to access, read, write, and send email. Ditto the Internet. I needed a little help but in less than an hour Jay had me surfing the Internet. If I didn’t know how to do something, Jay taught me to “Click around – your computer won’t explode.” I figured things out on my own by clicking around.
After Jay moved out of state, I learned about Senior Planet and its resources and information. I learned how to use an iPad, use social media platforms, and building a website, taught by knowledgeable, competent, and patient instructors. Even after Covid when classes moved to the internet, Senior Planet’s Zoom instruction got me back in class – in front of a screen. Digiphobia: Cured.
Of course, many people aren’t necessarily afraid of connectivity – they just can’t afford it.
Here’s how you can help the digital exiles you know.
Help for the Digital Exiles near you
Know someone you’d like to send email to, or chat by Zoom, but who can’t or won’t take the first step? Here’s what they might say – and what you can tell them:
“It’s all too complicated”
Caregivers and friends can take a look here at Aging Connected, an initiative of OATS and a gathering place for information if you are or care for one of the millions of older adults without access to high-speed internet. You can visit it to find low-cost internet options that are available in your area. The Stuck at Home Guide on Senior Planet also provides information about connecting to affordable broadband internet service options.
“Connectivity and devices are too expensive”
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) offers The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB); you can learn more here. (You can also call 877-745-1930). It provides a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.
In addition, there’s a one-time discount to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers (some conditions apply). More details are on the Aging Connected website: https://agingconnected.org/EBB/
“There’s no connectivity where I live”
While rural areas sometimes lack WiFi coverage, there are ways to get around that limitation:
“I need more help”
The digital exile in your life has several options;
Call the National Senior Planet Tech Hotline at 888-713-3495 (9am-5pm EST, M-F)
Look for a local option for in-person help. Recently Senior Planet launched a licensing program to deliver in-person learning programs for older adults living in low-density areas. The program is open to public, private and 502(c)3 organizations that serve older adults. Learn more here.
Know a library near you that might be interested? Ask them to email email@example.com to attend an information session or for questions.
Visit a local library for free computer time (and sometimes, instruction). Or try the library’s computer and connectivity to access Senior Planet programs and tutorials.
Join the Aging Connected Remote Resource Fair on December 16 at 11:00 am ET. Aging Connected, an initiative of Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) from AARP, is hosting a webinar for seniors to learn about getting connected to the internet. The webinar will feature experts who will share information about low-cost internet programs, government benefit programs, and free technology training and resources.