Study looks at rural seniors’ web use

Some studies suggest a variety of reasons why seniors are not going online for these services as much as they could be, ranging from a lack of perceived need to a fear of an over technological society.

Regardless of the reasoning, it is important to understand and reduce this ‘gray gap’ as much as possible to make sure senior citizens aren’t left in the past.

As a host of essential services, such as banking, health care and e-government, are looking to the internet to make services more easily and constantly accessible, so too are many of the users of those services.

However, it seems as though senior citizens are being left behind as they continue to be wary of adopting the online versions of those services. Some researchers have even referred to the divide between younger and older internet users as the ‘gray gap.’

More troubling still are the untapped possibilities in small and rural communities where many of these services are often moving, reducing services, or shutting down as they downsize and transition to online services.

Indeed, if seniors fail to take advantage of these services on the Internet, they might be neglected by the very services on which they so vitally depend.

Some studies suggest a variety of reasons why seniors are not going online for these services as much as they could be, ranging from a lack of perceived need to a fear of an over technological society.

Regardless of the reasoning, it is important to understand and reduce this ‘gray gap’ as much as possible to make sure senior citizens aren’t left in the past.

Rural communities are also getting connected, but how are they connecting?

As more and more rural communities in British Columbia are being connected to high-speed internet through various government initiatives, the impact of these new connections remains to be seen.

One such initiative, Network BC’s Connecting Citizens Grant Program, has been providing funding and support for the development of high-speed internet infrastructure in underserved communities around the province.

The results of these types of programs, however, are yet to be fully measured, which has left researchers asking: how exactly are rural communities using broadband internet in their daily lives?

One group of researchers at Simon Fraser University is attempting to answer these questions in part with their Silver Surfers project, which looks at the ways rural senior citizens are using computers and the internet to supplement their health and safety.

To take part in the study, or for more information, visit www.sfu.ca/silversurfers or email Patrick Truman at jpt1@sfu.ca.