Do many seniors use the internet?
A large percentage of seniors already use the internet. Statista discovered that in 2019, 73% of those in the 65+ age group use the internet. That’s nearly three quarters of the elderly US population. The number of people in the 65+ age group using the internet has been growing steadily, as the Pew Research Center discovered the percentage of elderly internet consumers was 59% in 2014 and 67% in 2017.
Seniors that do not use the internet are often those who do not have an internet connection at home and therefore choose not to buy an internet service, because they don’t know where to begin when purchasing one, and may also want to avoid the cost of setting one up.
How much does it cost for seniors to use the internet?
Internet providers do not typically provide internet deals
specifically for seniors, but there are options available for those with low incomes and those who need help using the internet. Many seniors will be eligible for cheap internet
plans that have government assistance.
Below we take a look at some of the more affordable internet plans that may be more suitable for seniors, especially those with a low income.
Internet Plans for Seniors
Comcast’s Internet Essentials program offers a home internet service for eligible seniors for as little as $10 per month, which also comes with a free computer and internet training classes. This deal is only available in some parts of the country so compare internet
providers now to see if your area is served.
Spectrum’s Internet Assist Program provides a great low-cost service for seniors receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. You will receive an internet modem free with the service and are given the option of adding Wi-Fi for only $5 per month. There are also the added benefits of no data caps and no contracts.
AT&T’s Access program is available for households where at least one member participates in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or a home in California where a member of the household receives SSI benefits. This program is therefore not necessarily just for seniors, and is not available in all states, but it does provide a super low-cost internet service for those eligible at just $5 - $10 per month.
Cox communications have a program called Connect2Compete, available for those with at least one household member participating in either SNAP, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), or residing in public or Section 8 housing. Again, you will need to check with the provider first as this program is only available for certain households in certain areas. If you do find out you are eligible, this is a great program, providing a free Wi-Fi modem, as well as computer and internet basic training.
CenturyLink’s Internet Basics Program is designed for low income individuals and families, especially those on the federal Lifeline Affordable Telephone Service. The benefits of this deal include 24/7 technical support, a Norton Security Suite anti-virus package, and access to free internet basic training.
FCC’s Lifeline program
The FCC’s Lifeline program lowers the monthly cost of phone or internet services by at least $9.25 per month. You will be eligible if you participate in Medicaid, SSI, SNAP and a few other federal and state assistance programs. It is not an internet service provider, but it can contribute towards the bill from the internet service you choose.
EveryoneOn is an organization that works with internet service providers to offer low-cost deals. The benefits of this program are that there are no contracts and costs start from as little as $10 per month. Visit their website to see if you are eligible.
There are many other internet service providers who have good low-income options. Finding a reliable, affordable internet deal will often depend on where you live. Ask for help with finding a good internet provider from your trusted family and friends.
Many internet service providers have updated their internet packages in response to the COVID-19 outbreak to help people during this challenging time. Check with providers to find out if this can help you.
Internet Discounts for Low-Income Seniors and Veterans
If you are a senior veteran of the US Military, then you could be eligible for a discount on your internet service. Many internet service providers offer special packages for US veterans, here are a small selection of them:
- AT&T offer $15 per month off for veterans.
- Verizon offer $120 off per year on their Fios Triple Play service and $60 off per year on their Fios Double Play service.
- Xfinity offer $25 coupons for veterans.
There are many more special offers and discounts available to veterans. When choosing between internet service providers remember to check or ask the provider if they have special deals for veterans before you purchase an internet plan.
What can seniors do on the internet?
The internet is a gateway to almost unlimited possibilities for seniors. Primarily it can be useful for seniors as a means of communication with family, friends and communities. It gives you the ability to make calls, video calls, email, and instant message, as well as send and receive images and videos. The internet also provides access to social media sites, allowing further communication possibilities. You can also browse the internet for the latest news, event information and weather forecasts around the world. Finally, the internet serves as an online marketplace – you can buy tickets for travel and events, purchase groceries and other goods and services, book hotels, rent a car, and much more.
Avoiding Internet Scams as a Senior
A major problem for seniors when on the internet is the number of scams targeting elderly internet consumers. You can find plenty of information online about how to avoid these common scams. It is important never to give out any sensitive personal information over the internet – especially your bank account details. Never communicate with anyone who asks for your personal information that you don’t trust. If in doubt, ask a trusted family member or friend if they can help you verify the validity of someone calling you asking for personal information. The internet can be confusing, so don’t click anything or reply to anything that you are not sure of.
Where to Learn How to Use the Internet for Seniors
Many internet service providers will have the option for basic internet and computer training in their internet plans. Check with your provider to see if they have basic training included as part of your plan. Ask younger family members or friends to help you out on the internet. Your children or grandchildren will likely have an extensive knowledge of the internet and computers so ask them to give you a lesson. If you don’t have family or friends that can help you to learn, then many communities will have free local internet classes , both online and in public buildings.