Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×

Search

Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Older Adults Rely on the Internet and the Affordable Connectivity Program

Access to the internet is a necessity in today’s world, and initiatives like the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) ensure that cost isn’t a barrier to access for adults 50 and older, a recent AARP Research study showed.

spinner image Older man using laptop

Using interviews, in-home observations, and video diaries, the study highlighted how central internet access is to everyday life, including in such key areas as daily well-being and societal participation. There is deep reliance on the internet for basic, essential, and recreational activities. Particularly relevant to older adults is how internet connectivity ensures people are engaged, informed, and connected to society’s daily tasks. It supports a range of crucial activities, from health management to financial tasks.

In that digital-dependent environment, many people rely on the ACP discount to afford in-home internet service, the study confirmed. Nearly all the participants could not fathom a life without in-home internet service.

 Loss of the ACP benefit and Internet Access

   

STAYING CONNECTED

Without ACP, participants said they would struggle to pay for the internet.

“You may not think that $30 is a lot, but for me, that is $30 less that I have to pay for a bill,” explained one of the study participants, who lives in Texas. “That could maybe put gas in my car for a week. It is very beneficial to me.”

The importance of staying connected to the internet is felt at all levels, down to the simple need to interact. “My heart would be broken,” explained another participant who lives in Tennessee. She said that if she didn’t have access to the internet, “I would be bored. I would have to find something to do. I would be lost a little bit.”

That sort of engagement that the internet enables is part of combating loneliness — a well-documented concern for people as they age.

Value Provided by Internet Access

   

TACKLING DAILY CHALLENGES

Besides personal and social connections, internet access also provides opportunities for education, work, and financial savings.

One participant, who lives in West Virginia, noted that he takes online classes to earn his master’s in education. Both distance and his inability to drive at night prevent him from being able to attend in-person classes.

In addition, those who must stay at home noted the ability to work. Connectivity, for example, allows one family caregiver who lives in New Mexico and works from home, to both take care of his mother and maintain employment. The ability to work, he says, has provided him with the extra income he needs.

Others mentioned using internet access to view online tutorials for hobbies like knitting or home repairs. Another valued benefit — and one that can help with household budgets: finding savings through online price comparison tools and rewards programs.

Internet Use and Daily Life

   

METHODOLOGY

For the study, researchers gathered firsthand information and observations from a dozen ACP enrollees concerning their experiences with the internet. The fieldwork was done in the homes of participants living in nine different states between October 2023 and December 2023.

For more information, please contact Brittne Kakulla at bkakulla@aarp.org. For media inquiries, please contact External Relations at media@aarp.org.