One generation will help another close the remaining digital divide (Editorial)

Published: Apr 28, 2023

By The Republican Editorials

Even after a long state effort to bring high-speed internet to rural areas, access to this critical tool of modern life has remained out of reach for many.

Many who live in cities, as well as towns.

When people first heard the term “digital divide” in Massachusetts, it referred to people in small towns unable to sign up for internet access from cable companies. Private companies bypassed these prospective customers because of the high cost of reaching them.

Government stepped into the gap during the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker. After delays and false starts, the Legislature and governor eventually invested about $57 million to get high-speed service to 53 towns – in some cases through incentives paid to commercial companies, in others by grants to towns that wanted to build publicly owned networks. That job is nearly done.

That digital divide needed hardware. Utilities pounded 40,000 new poles into the ground. Crews laid 2,000 miles of fiber optic cable. In the end, 26,000 residences and businesses obtained long-denied internet access. Not having that access hurt. It hurt businesses, students and people in need of telehealth services. It depressed property values.

Today, the state, continuing a program shaped in the last months of the Baker administration, wants to close a different digital divide. This one needs soft skills and cash – and will get it, thanks to an infusion of federal money that dwarfs what was spent reaching people in rural areas.

This past week, economic development officials with the Healey administration came to Springfield to detail steps that will help people take advantage of resources available online, removing barriers to information and providing greater equity for all. We applaud this new chapter and encourage people to take advantage of new programs, training and, yes, devices and subsidies.

In Springfield, 54% of residents do not have a reliable internet connection, one study found.

That’s not just an inconvenience. “It is a civil right. It is a human right,” Frank Robinson, vice president for public health and community relations with Baystate Health Systems told a gathering at the Tech Foundry. Baystate will lead a program called Cyber Seniors, in which high school and college students coach senior citizens who haven’t the tech skills, or means, to get online.

As reporter Jim Kinney explained in a story this week, the state will pump $14 million into a variety of projects. The Digital Equity Partnerships Program will pull from a $50 million fund provided through federal pandemic relief.

In coming months, we will continue to highlight steps in this work. More than a dozen Springfield-area groups have lined up with Baystate to take part. They are doing important work.

Most people take for granted the ability to hop online and search. The new effort is needed and overdue.

Western Mass. group gets $5.1 million to address ‘digital divide’ in skills, devices and fiber coverage

Published: Apr 27, 2023

By Jim Kinney | jkinney@repub.com

SPRINGFIELD – Starting next week, high school and college students will start helping senior citizens connect to the internet, taking advantage, perhaps for the first time, of the web’s wealth of life tools.

The step will start with four internet guides, but could expand to 60 as part of a broad state project to remove barriers to internet access.

“If we train 60 young people, we can reach 400 seniors,” said Frank Robinson, vice president of public health at Baystate Health. “This is an intergenerational exchange.”

Called Cyber Seniors, the pilot program begins May 6 at the Palmer Public Library. The training is one program of a new effort, led by Baystate Health Systems.

The Western Massachusetts Alliance for Digital Equity, as it is known, will receive $5.1 million from the state’s Digital Equity Partnerships Program. Elders will be able, once trained, to avail themselves telehealth, online benefit applications, email and other internet programs that most people consider indispensible.

On Thursday, Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao visited Springfield to announce $14 million in grants aimed to close the state’s digital divide. She spoke at the Tech Foundry job skills training program.

The term digital divide once referred only to the lack of high-speed internet service in rural areas. But it now covers any skills gap that keeps people from accessing the technology, or any device gap or lack of computers or computer access.

The Digital Equity Partnerships Program was launched in September 2022 with a $50 million fund to narrow the digital divide in the state. According to a news release, the program works with partners on six program areas to expand connectivity options.

The money comes from the state’s share of the federal American Rescue Plan Act, COVID recovery legislation of 2021.

“Broadband access is part of the puzzle. But only part of the puzzle. Having fiber on your street is just part of the battle,” said Michael Baldino, director and general counsel for the Massachusetts Broadband Institute.

The rest of that puzzle lies in missing skills and tech devices.

The state has made significant progress bringing broadband into underserved areas, Baldino said. Back in 2016 there were 44 towns – mostly in western and central Massachusetts — without access to high-speed internet. Now, projects are completed in 37 of the 44 and are underway in the remaining municipalities.

In Springfield, despite years of effort, 54% of the city’s residents are without reliable internet connection, said Roger W. Crandall, chairman, president and CEO of MassMutual and co-chair of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership’s Innovation Committee.

Baystate Health is involved, Robinson said, because internet access is connected with a person’s health and well-being. No internet means no telemedicine, no online appointment scheduling and less access to education.

“It is a civil right,” Robinson said. “It is a human right.”

The projects fall into broad categories. Participating organizations will establish and administer projects in one or more of the following program areas:

  • Digital Literacy Initiative – $2,299,235 for digital literacy training programs.
  • Connectivity Initiative for Economic Hardship – $689,313 for broadband connectivity to vulnerable populations through the provision of Wi-Fi cellular hot spots.
  • Public Space Internet Modernization Initiative – $813,221 for improvements to inadequate broadband infrastructure and digital use in public spaces and increase daily use and services.
  • Outreach and Enrollment – $1,347,693 for breaking down barriers to broadband adoption. This includes increasing the number of western Massachusetts residents participating in the Digital Equity Partnership Initiative programs and the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program. This outreach will involve in-person workshops, call center phone banking, door-to-door outreach, online or printed communications and public service announcements.

Breezeline Provides Digital Training to Empower Older Adults in South Florida

Breezeline partners with Cyber Seniors for onsite technology training

April 25, 2023 11:29 ET | Source: Breezeline

MIAMI, April 25, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Breezeline, the nation’s eighth-largest cable operator, hosted a digital literacy seminar to empower older adults in South Florida with the knowledge and skills to effectively navigate the digital world.

The digital literacy learning event was held April 20 at Sunrise Lakes III, a 55+ active senior community in Sunrise, Florida. Breezeline held the event in partnership with Cyber-Seniors, a non-profit that provides tech-training and digital mentors to seniors. The interactive seminar covered topics such as tech and internet basics, helpful aging, cybersecurity, telemedicine, and online banking.

“Digital skills are essential in today’s world. That is why Cyber-Seniors is proud to provide technology training that keeps older populations socially connected and engaged,” said Brenda Rusnak, co-founder and President of Cyber-Seniors. 

To further enhance the online experience, Breezeline also provided attendees with blue light glasses that prevent eye strain while looking at screens. 

This event is one of several steps Breezeline is taking to foster digital literacy and the responsible use of technology in its communities. Earlier this year, Breezeline sponsored the South Florida non-profit CodeArt’s annual festival and coding competition, aimed to inspire girls in computer science. 

“We recognize the great benefits online connectivity provides and are mindful of the responsibility to promote its right and safe use, while expanding access to connectivity in this digital age,” said Andrew Walton, a spokesperson for Breezeline.

Breezeline is committed each year to donating at least one percent of its pre-tax profits to community-based support. In its last fiscal year, Breezeline contributed more than $5 million in support of community initiatives.

ABOUT BREEZELINE

Cogeco US, operating as Breezeline, a subsidiary of Cogeco Communications Inc. (TSX: CCA), is the eighth-largest cable operator in the United States. The company provides its residential and business customers with Internet, TV and Voice services in 13 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Cogeco Communications Inc. also operates in Québec and Ontario, in Canada, under the Cogeco Connexion name. Cogeco Inc.’s subsidiary, Cogeco Media, owns and operates 21 radio stations as well as a news agency serving audiences primarily in the province of Québec.

Breezeline

‘Tech Pals’ Overcome Vision Problems, Age Differences, and Smartphone Anxiety

Photo: Anne Perzeszty (l) and Leslie Guevara (r). Photo credit: Don Horvath.

By Lisa Kava

Anne Perzeszty, 86, considers herself to be tech savvy for someone her age. But she was overwhelmed when she purchased a new Samsung cell phone last fall. ”I immediately hated it,” she told West Side Rag in a phone interview. “I wanted to throw it away. There were too many bells and whistles; it was just loaded with features.”

Perzeszty has a condition called macular degeneration, which causes loss of central vision. While intimidated by the phone’s features, her vision impairment added an extra challenge. “With macular degeneration I have learned how to navigate the outside world, but it is very difficult for me to see close up,” she said.

Perzeszty is involved with Lighthouse Guild, a nonprofit organization located at 250 West 64th Street, which provides services to blind and visually impaired individuals. She signed up for a new intergenerational program run by the organization called Tech Pals, where young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 help mentees above the age of 55 with their smartphones. The “pals” meet at the Lighthouse Guild’s Technology Center from 10 AM to 2 PM every Saturday for one-on-one training. All mentors and mentees are visually impaired or blind.

Perzeszty was paired with Leslie Guevara, 22, a college student with the genetic condition iris nerve retinal coloboma. While Guevara can see black and white, much of her vision is blurry, and glare hurts her eyes. She uses both a magnifier and glasses. Upon learning about Tech Pals, the idea of helping others with vision impairment resonated with her. “I have always been good with technology,” she told the Rag in a phone call.

Guevara says her own vision challenges make her sensitive to those of her mentees. She enjoys sharing tips she uses in her everyday life. “The first thing I did was to change the settings in Anne’s phone,” Guevara said. “Dark mode makes the contrast with white words easier to see. Guevara also introduced Perzeszty to the easy voice recorder app. “It is like any other recording app. I use it for everything. Now Anne uses it for her Trader Joe’s and Costco lists. It is so much easier than struggling to read a shopping list when we can just listen.”

“I had a challenge and Leslie had the tools to help,” Perzeszty said. “I felt comfortable with her immediately.” Each week they work together on a different aspect of the phone. “She really helped me with my confidence. I could not see the buttons on my phone,” Perzeszty said. “She set up the accessibility function, she made the type bigger, she set up google assistant, and showed me how to ask questions.”

Judith Katzen (far left) and mentors. Jason Eckert, (blue shirt, right) executive director of the Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation (RDPFS). Photo credit: Ekaterina Svetova.

Judith Katzen, director of rehabilitation at Lighthouse Guild, thought of the idea for Tech Pals during the summer of 2022. In a phone conversation with the executive director of the Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation, which provides funding to Lighthouse Guild, Katzen learned about Cyber-Seniors, based in Canada, where typically sighted young people mentor typically sighted seniors in technology. “We studied their model and thought we can take this concept and make it happen with the blind and visually impaired community,” Katzen explained.

Katzen hired a program manager with a background in teaching technology to blind and deaf individuals. She then interviewed graduates of Lighthouse Guild’s youth programs for mentor positions. Guevara and the others selected participated in online training with Cyber-Seniors in September, 2022. The program went live in October. Tech Pals mentors get paid for their services. “For many it is their first job,” Katzen said.

Beyond technology help, Perzeszty and Guevara enjoy the personal relationship they have developed. Guevara tries to establish a connection with her mentees from the beginning. “I want them to feel at ease and I always try to find a common interest. Anne told me she was nervous about her granddaughter traveling by subway, so I told her I take the subway all the time.”

The duo often chat about family when Perzeszty’s eyes get tired and she needs a break. “Leslie will talk about her younger sister, and I will throw in some stories about my daughters. We have things in common beyond vision impairment,” Perzeszty said. “I think the intergenerational concept is brilliant. The younger generation has the challenge of finding a common language and teaching us. The older generation must respect the younger generation and what they have to offer.”

“Working with Anne has been so gratifying,” said Guevara. “One time, as she was walking into the technology center, she was on a video call with her daughter. I showed her how to do that. It was neat to watch her in action.”

Helping seniors get some cyber-savvy

Program provides devices, internet connection, technical education

Participants in the University of Rhode Island’s Engaging Generations Cyber-Seniors program have shown statistically significant improvements in digital competence, technology use, quality of life, and in strengthening social bonds. 

The program has helped participants feel more connected to their communities, increase contact with family and friends, and generally improve their feelings of well-being and overall health.

The findings are the result of surveys taken by participants before and after the program, which aimed to increase digital competency in older adults, especially while the COVID-19 pandemic limited their contact with others. 

The program provides participants with smart devices like iPads, wireless internet hotspots, if needed, and the training and technical support they need to access online resources, work and meet remotely, and virtually communicate with family and friends. 

The Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging funded the URI study as part of its digiAGE initiative to implement and evaluate the pilot program, providing devices and hotspots to diverse older adults from communities hit hardest by COVID-19. URI partnered with five community organizations to recruit and support English- and Spanish-speaking adults 50 years old and older, with the average age being 72. 

URI students provided technology training through individualized phone calls, Zoom meetings, or in-person appointments. Weekly Zoom meetings shared technology and community resource information while also creating a community among participants.

“Our team at URI was thrilled to offer this intergenerational program to provide students meaningful service learning and internship experience and to improve digital inclusion among the older population,” said Skye Leedahl, associate professor of human development & family science and director and principal investigator of the URI Engaging Generations program. 

“This program is unique in that it meets an important community need for older adults while also building career readiness skills for future professionals. Both generations learn from each other, and they seem to have fun, too!”

“The Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging is extremely proud of this partnership with the University of Rhode Island’s Engaging Generations Cyber-Seniors program,” said Director Maria Cimini. 

“This program offers learning and socialization opportunities for older Rhode Islanders. By improving technology skills, this program improves quality of life. Dr. Leedahl and her students have done great work through this program to help bridge the digital divide here in Rhode Island.”

Participants were asked to meet their assigned student mentor regularly for two to three months and complete pre- and post-surveys, as well as phone interviews in order to keep their iPads and retain internet connection through the year of the program. Based on their analyses, researchers discovered participants’ use of technology, as well as their digital competence and comfort level using the devices, increased significantly. 

More than 76 percent of participants reported daily usage of an iPad after having previously never used such a device. Their competence levels — especially using video calls, obtaining information from public authorities or public services, seeking health information, and being able to participate in a telehealth appointment — improved significantly. Many reported feeling less isolated and less lonely after learning how to connect via the devices.

“It has helped me because now I can be involved with other people who are using the tablet or the phone and be in the conversation,” one participant reported. “Before, I just had to sit there, and I didn’t know anything was going on. Now, I can participate.”

“It actually has impacted my mental wellbeing because with FaceTime, I have a friend, my best friend who lives far away, and I was able to see her for the first time in two years, that made me feel really good,” another participant said.

Overall, most participants reported that they were content with what they learned and now felt prepared to complete tasks and use technology on their own said Leedahl, who presented the study at the Gerontological Society of America Scientific Meeting in Indianapolis, IN, in November 2022. 

Still, most said they would like to continue with technical support not only to continue learning, but also to continue the connections they’ve made with their student mentors and fellow participants.

“This provides evidence that the URI Cyber-Seniors digiAGE iPad pilot program positively influences quality of life, social isolation, and loneliness for participants in the program,” Leedahl concluded. 

“We are now working to implement the program statewide, and there is great interest in the program across the state. We will continue to examine participant experiences to compare to the pilot study.”

URI’s Cyber-Seniors program improving digital competency, social connections for older adults expanding statewide

Program provides devices, internet connection, technical education

Participants in the University of Rhode Island’s Engaging Generations Cyber-Seniors program have shown statistically significant improvements in digital competence, technology use, quality of life, and in strengthening social bonds. The program has helped participants feel more connected to their communities, increase contact with family and friends, and generally improve their feelings of well-being and overall health.

The findings are the result of surveys taken by participants before and after the program, which aimed to increase digital competency in older adults, especially while the COVID-19 pandemic limited their contact with others. The program provides participants with smart devices like iPads, wireless internet hotspots, if needed, and the training and technical support they need to access online resources, work and meet remotely, and virtually communicate with family and friends. 

The Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging funded the URI study as part of its digiAGE initiative to implement and evaluate the pilot program, providing devices and hotspots to diverse older adults from communities hit hardest by COVID-19. URI partnered with five community organizations to recruit and support English- and Spanish-speaking adults 50 years old and older, with the average age being 72. URI students provided technology training through individualized phone calls, Zoom meetings, or in-person appointments. Weekly Zoom meetings shared technology and community resource information while also creating a community among participants.

Skye Leedahl
Skye Leedahl

“Our team at URI was thrilled to offer this intergenerational program to provide students meaningful service learning and internship experience and to improve digital inclusion among the older population,” said Skye Leedahl, associate professor of human development & family science and director and principal investigator of the URI Engaging Generations program. “This program is unique in that it meets an important community need for older adults while also building career readiness skills for future professionals. Both generations learn from each other, and they seem to have fun, too!”

“The Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging is extremely proud of this partnership with the University of Rhode Island’s Engaging Generations Cyber-Seniors program,” said Director Maria Cimini. “This program offers learning and socialization opportunities for older Rhode Islanders. By improving technology skills, this program improves quality of life. Dr. Leedahl and her students have done great work through this program to help bridge the digital divide here in Rhode Island.”

Participants were asked to meet their assigned student mentor regularly for two to three months and complete pre- and post-surveys, as well as phone interviews in order to keep their iPads and retain internet connection through the year of the program. Based on their analyses, researchers discovered participants’ use of technology, as well as their digital competence and comfort level using the devices, increased significantly. More than 76 percent of participants reported daily usage of an iPad after having previously never used such a device. Their competence levels — especially using video calls, obtaining information from public authorities or public services, seeking health information, and being able to participate in a telehealth appointment — improved significantly. Many reported feeling less isolated and less lonely after learning how to connect via the devices.

“It has helped me because now I can be involved with other people who are using the tablet or the phone and be in the conversation,” one participant reported. “Before, I just had to sit there, and I didn’t know anything was going on. Now, I can participate.”

“It actually has impacted my mental wellbeing because with FaceTime, I have a friend, my best friend who lives far away, and I was able to see her for the first time in two years, that made me feel really good,” another participant said.

Overall, most participants reported that they were content with what they learned and now felt prepared to complete tasks and use technology on their own said Leedahl, who presented the study at the Gerontological Society of America Scientific Meeting in Indianapolis, IN, in November 2022. Still, most said they would like to continue with technical support not only to continue learning, but also to continue the connections they’ve made with their student mentors and fellow participants.

“This provides evidence that the URI Cyber-Seniors digiAGE iPad pilot program positively influences quality of life, social isolation, and loneliness for participants in the program,” Leedahl concluded. “We are now working to implement the program statewide, and there is great interest in the program across the state. We will continue to examine participant experiences to compare to the pilot study.”

Program aims to bridge the digital divide among three community groups

Published 12/12/2022  BenitoLink Reporter, Robert Eliason

Free iPads are available to San Benito County residents who are 60 years or older, have disabilities or are family caregivers.

The Aging & Disability Resource Connection of San Benito County began distributing over 4,000 free iPads complete with data plans to people over 60, individuals living with a disability, and family caregivers through a new program sponsored by the California Department on Aging. The program aims to reduce the feelings of loneliness and isolation among the target groups and provide them with better access to resources and information.

The free iPads are being provided as part of an executive order issued in August 2020 by Gov. Gavin Newsom that is intended to improve download speeds within the state and bridge the digital divide for those who lack broadband access. 

The program is administered locally by the Aging & Disability Resource Connection of San Benito County. 

“The program was planned out during the pandemic to get the target groups more involved and connected,” said Program Coordinator Leanne Oliveira. “We started signing people up last summer, but it has just been activated. And I think that most people know someone who would qualify.” 

Priority is being given to older, low-income individuals as well as Indigenous or people of color who have the greatest need. However, no one will be excluded from the program just because they are not in one of these groups.

“The way it works is that people sign up with me, then I connect them with the state,” Oliveira said. “They get a phone call where they get asked questions to determine their eligibility and their level of need. If they qualify, they get their iPads.”

The screening questions are also designed to determine the applicant’s current level of computing skills and whether they already have internet access and a computer or tablet. If they qualify, the applicant receives a Generation 8 iPad with a free data plan. 

Anonymous usage data is gathered by the program to better understand how older adults use the device and track their challenges and successes. The program managers will also be able to monitor whether the device stops being used for significant amounts of time or is sold or given away.

Florence Yturralde of Tres Pinos has received her iPad and is eagerly awaiting the start of the lessons. With no previous experience with an Ipad and isolated from a family that does not live in the county, she was a model candidate.

“I don’t know if Leanne had to go through a lot of trouble to get it for me,” she said. “I didn’t have to do much besides waiting for it to arrive. I applied because everybody has one, and I wanted to know how to use it. I thought how neat it would be to use it to take pictures when I visit my family. And I would have something to see them on when they send me pictures.” 

Yturralde said she had some difficulties at first when turning the iPad off presented a challenge. But said she has been using Facebook a little and is looking forward to the start of instructional programs next month, which will be conducted by Cyber-Seniors, an online organization providing free support and training for senior citizens. 

The Cyber-Seniors site includes instructional videos on computer skills, one-on-one mentoring appointments and webinars on subjects besides computers, such as guided meditation and reducing senior health risks like dementia. While there will be special programs available for iPad recipients, all seniors are welcome to access the educational materials on the site without charge.

“With their iPads, the recipients will have access to an entire world of information and interaction,” Oliveira said. “They will not only learn basic computer skills, but they will be able to use their iPads to travel the world through virtual city tours, take yoga classes and expand their activities to make them feel more involved with the world around them.”

To apply for the program, contact Oliveira at (888) 637-6757.

Aura Partners with Cyber-Seniors to Combat Fraud

Aura and Nonprofit Cyber-Seniors Announce Partnership to Combat Disproportionate Rates of Fraud Among Older Adults

The partners will launch a Cybersecurity Hub and digital safety trainings for seniors and caregivers in 2023

BOSTON, Nov. 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Aura, the leader in intelligent safety for consumers, today announced a partnership with Cyber-Seniors, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering older adults with technology training and intergenerational support that keeps them socially connected and engaged. Aura will partner with Cyber-Seniors to reduce the disproportionate impact of digital crime, scams and financial fraud targeting older Americans.

The partnership announcement comes just in time for National Family Caregivers Month and Giving Tuesday. Aura will work with Cyber-Seniors to provide monthly events for seniors and their caregivers around cybersecurity and digital protection, as well as a cybersecurity resource hub on Cyber-Seniors’ website. This builds upon Aura’s existing support of the senior community with 25% off Aura plans and in-depth digital security guides for adults 60 and older.

According to the FBI, older adults experience median losses up to 16 times those of other age groups. In fact, in 2021, Americans 60 and older reported nearly 100,000 incidents costing them $1.7 billion — a 74% increase from 2020.

“Although cybercrime is an issue that affects all Americans at increasing levels every year, seniors are among those most vulnerable to scams, fraud and other types of digital attacks,” said Aura Founder and CEO Hari Ravichandran. “Often, this community holds more wealth than other age groups and may have less familiarity with new technologies and tools, making them attractive targets for scammers and cybercriminals. Together with Cyber-Seniors, Aura will empower older adults and their caregivers with the tools, resources and information necessary to protect against identity theft and fraud.”

Aura’s all-in-one, online security solutions proactively keep individuals and their families safe from identity theft, financial fraud, and online scams and threats. As the leader in intelligent safety solutions, Aura’s one-of-a-kind subscription service brings together security, privacy and parental controls into a single app. Aura’s technology is easy to use, simple to set up, and comes with 100% U.S.-based customer support that is available 24/7. All subscription plans are backed with $1,000,000 in identity theft insurance for peace of mind.1

Cyber-Seniors offers seniors and their caregivers both in-person and digital resources, as well as trainings, to help empower families and communities through technology.

“Cybersecurity and online safety are among the most frequently requested topics by our audience,” said Cyber-Seniors Co-Founder and President Brenda Rusnak. “The rates of fraud and scams affecting seniors continues to increase, and Cyber-Seniors is thrilled to work with Aura to expand the resources, tools and training we offer our users in protecting their personal information, finances and families from an ever-evolving list of digital threats.”

For more information on digital safety for seniors, and to access Aura’s 25% off senior discount, visit aura.com/60plus. 

About Aura

Aura, the leader in intelligent safety solutions, provides all-in-one digital protection for consumers. We understand that the online safety needs of each individual are unique and require a personalized solution. By bringing together security, privacy and parental controls on an intelligent platform, Aura makes adaptive and proactive digital safety accessible to everyone. Visit www.aura.com.

Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions

SOURCE Aura

For further information: Shelby Powers, shelby.powers@aura.com

CYBER SENIORS IS CONNECTING THE OLDER GENERATION WITH MORE THAN JUST TECHNOLOGY

Lexington, Kentucky (August 4, 2022) — With the internet continuously growing, it is more important than ever to have access to the tools it has to offer. This means making connectivity for all a big priority, including for those age 55 and older. Though they didn’t grow up with it, seniors are purchasing tech products at an increasing rate. According to the California Mobility Center, “51% of seniors report purchasing a tech product within the past year.”

Why is this the case?

Many seniors struggle with isolation due to health problems and other limitations. For many older Americans, the internet is the only way they interact with others. This has only been magnified since the pandemic.

Alice Gross is one of those seniors. After her husband died, she struggled with social isolation. Going online and connecting with the Cyber Seniors program helped her feel less alone.

“I find Cyber Seniors profoundly valuable,” Alice says. “There are always outlets to use, and it has connected me to entertainment and education.”

Connected Nation talked with Kascha Cassaday of Cyber Seniors to learn more about how the nonprofit is helping seniors like Alice get the tech-related help they need. The organization’s tech-savvy teen volunteers are trained in many areas of technology and internet usage, including email, social media, and more. They visit retirement homes and assisted living centers, and provide seniors with one-on-one lessons.

Cyber Seniors offers a variety of services and programs to make learning the internet easy. Not only that, the organization helps seniors stay social through online trivia nights and daily webinars.

For those of us who grew up with technology, the internet may seem like common sense. But to an older person who is brand new to it, navigating the web can be very challenging, says Kascha.

If you’re helping parents and grandparents learn how to use Google or Facebook for the first time, she adds, “Be patient. Think about when you were learning something new, and how frustrating it can be.”

The biggest obstacles for the older generation getting connected to the internet are affordability and access. Broadband internet service can be very expensive, and not everyone can afford it. This becomes a disadvantage in getting jobs, accessing telehealth, and other opportunities like socializing. That’s why it is so important to bridge the Digital Divide and create opportunities for all.

Cyber Seniors is making access easier for older Americans by offering a toll-free number for tech help, and webinars for additional guidance. All steps are taken to make these resources are as efficient and helpful as possible.

With everything from shopping to banking to medical care online today, high-speed internet is no longer a luxury and shouldn’t be treated as one. It’s also a critical resource for staying in touch with family and friends. Getting older can be lonely, and it is up to all of us to make it less so. You can help seniors in your life use the internet efficiently and make a difference!

Sources: https://californiamobility.com/21-senior-technology-statistics/

About the Author: Isabel Pedersen is one of Connected Nation’s Communications and Marketing Interns. Isabel provides support to the Communications division of Connected Nation. Isabel also assists with writing, company blogs and social media posting, website editing, and bringing creativity to new and existing communications materials.

Breezeline Launches Community Impact Program Promoting Digital Literacy and Responsible Use of Technology

Program also supports online safety and STEM initiatives for young women

June 15, 2022 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

QUINCY, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Breezeline, the nation’s eighth-largest cable operator, is pleased to announce a series of online community education initiatives designed to foster digital literacy and equity while supporting online safety, a healthy tech-life balance, as well as promoting technology careers for young people.

Recognizing the great benefits that internet connectivity provides, but also mindful that not all members of the community currently share in its benefits equally, and seeking to foster the responsible use of technology, Breezeline is supporting more than a half-dozen non-profit organizations to promote these objectives in its communities. These include:

  • Digital Literacy for Seniors: Breezeline has partnered with Cyber-Seniors to create free, educational webinars teaching digital literacy basics for senior citizens. Cyber Seniors also provides free, live, one-on-one sessions to help device users become more tech savvy.
  • Tech Life Balance: Breezeline has partnered with The Digital Wellness Lab (DWL), which is composed of medical doctors, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, and research scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital who are working to understand and promote wellness in the digital age. With DWL, Breezeline will present short videos, webinars, and social media content to help parents understand the impact of media on their children and the practical steps they can take to mitigate its effects.
  • Cyber-Bullying Prevention: Breezeline has partnered with Pacer Center’s National Bullying Prevention Center to create cyberbullying prevention resources to distribute to schools and families during National Bullying Prevention Month in October and throughout the year.
  • Online Safety: Breezeline has partnered with CyberSecurity Non-Profit (CSNP) to create short videos, blogs, and social posts to inform and educate the public on ways to protect against cybercrime and to promote online safety.
  • STEM for Girls: Breezeline is supporting Code/Art’s annual coding festival and national coding competition, as well as regional coding clubs across the U.S. Code/Art is focused on closing the gender gap in technology by creating coding programs for girls in grades 3-12, inspiring girls to pursue computer science, and helping to change society’s view of what a coder looks like.
  • Promoting Tech Careers: The Interactive Case Competition challenges teams of graduate business students to solve real-life case studies pertaining to the cable industry. As the lead sponsor in the spring fall competitions, Breezeline senior leaders serve as judges and mentors, while sponsorship dollars go to the winning student teams as prize money to support their education. More than 40 percent of students go on to pursue tech careers.

“Breezeline is committed to using advanced technology to connect homes, education, health care, businesses and communities to everything that is important to them,” said Frank van der Post, President of Breezeline. “We know the tremendous benefits of online connectivity, but with this comes the responsibility to promote its right and safe use, while ensuring that all segments of our communities have access to connectivity in this digital age.”

Breezeline is committed each year to donating at least 1 percent of its pre-tax profits to community-based support. In its last fiscal year, Breezeline contributed more than $5 million in its support of community initiatives.

ABOUT BREEZELINE

Cogeco US, operating as Breezeline, a subsidiary of Cogeco Communications Inc. (TSX: CCA), is the eighth-largest cable operator in the United States. The company provides its residential and business customers with Internet, TV and Voice services in 12 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Cogeco Communications Inc. also operates in Québec and Ontario, in Canada, under the Cogeco Connexion name. Cogeco Inc.’s subsidiary, Cogeco Media, owns and operates 21 radio stations as well as a news agency serving audiences primarily in the province of Québec.

Contacts

Katherine McCoid 
Breezeline 
kmccoid@breezeline.com 
breezeline@kwtglobal.com