Seattle-Tacoma seniors among the most-wired in U.S.

Aug 4th, 2022 | By | Category: News

Technology helps older adults stay in touch and access critical services.

While older adults generally are less involved with technology than their younger counterparts (for example, 78 percent of 65-and-over households have Internet access, compared to 89 percent of households overall), they are more digitally connected today than ever before, with some of the most-connected living in the Seattle-Tacoma area.

The pandemic is one reason why. Technology has helped seniors endure some of the most trying aspects of COVID-19 by allowing them to stay in touch with others during isolation and providing access to critical services such as grocery delivery and telehealth visits with doctors.

A recent AARP report found that spending on technology by older adults nearly tripled during the pandemic, and smartphones were one of their top three tech purchases. AARP also reported significantly more seniors texted, used video chat, and e-mailed during the pandemic than before.

Sixty percent of U.S. seniors have high-speed Internet, and 67 percent have a computer and a smartphone, according to Census Bureau statistics.

The numbers are higher in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area, where 70 percent of senior households have high-speed Internet, 75 percent have a computer or laptop, and 72 percent have a smartphone. Among all large U.S. metros, Seattle has the 11th most digitally-connected seniors.

The local and national numbers emerged in a study of the most digitally connected seniors in the 50 states and 250 metropolitan areas by researchers at HotDog.com, a consumer research service specializing in television technology. It analyzed data from the Census Bureau and created a composite score based on percentages of 65-plus households with high-speed Internet, a computer, and a smartphone.

The percentages vary widely by location and socioeconomic status. For example, there’s a strong rural-metropolitan digital divide among older Americans and low rates of technology use in less-educated and low-income senior households.

At the regional level, seniors living on the coasts and in the Mountain West tend to be more digitally connected than those living in the South and Midwest. Ranked highest among all states is Utah, where 65 percent of senior households have access to high-speed Internet, 80 percent have a computer or laptop, and 76 percent have a smartphone. Metropolitan areas in California, Colorado, Utah, and Florida top the list because of strong economies.

Nationally, 59 percent of senior households have access to high-speed Internet, and 67 percent have computers and smartphones. On the opposite end of the spectrum, West Virginia ranks last.

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