5 Ways Internet Access Makes Rural Living Better
While many young urbanites are glued to their smartphones day and night, 15% of Americans still do not use the internet, ever. In rural Limited areas, where internet options are already limited, the number is even higher; nearly one in four rural Americans do not have internet access.
According to a 2015 Pew study, demographics have a lot to do with whether or not a person uses the internet. Americans who are 65 and older, make less than $30,000 per year, or have less than a high school education are significantly less likely than others to use the internet.
Other factors, including a perception that the internet is irrelevant to their lives or that an internet connection is too expensive (yes, in rural areas it can be), also prevents people from going online.
As the number of services accessible by internet expands – from calling services to banking services to online learning to e-commerce and so on – so does, unfortunately, the number of services non-internet users are missing out on.
Here are the top five reasons to try the internet, even in a rural area with limited internet access:
1. Social Network | Stay in contact with family and friends.
Small, close communities are one of the benefits of country living, but many rural dwellers also have family and friends scattered towns and states apart. Keep up with your children and grandchildren’s lives on social media or call long distance for cheaper using voice-over-internet-protocol services like Skype.
2. Online Research | Discover a wealth of knowledge.
Locating information – about anything from crops to weather to Shakespeare – can be difficult in rural areas where the nearest library or bookstore is miles away. The internet brings shelves of knowledge directly to your fingertips, so that you can know more than ever before.
3. Online Gaming |There are fun things online.
At first, using the internet may be frustrating. If, however, a competent person helps you get set up, the internet can be incredibly entertaining. A basic internet connection (satellite, or even dial-up) lets you play simple multiplayer games like cards. Better connections (mobile broadband, sometimes satellite) let you stream the music, television shows, or movies you want to see (even the oldies and classics), whenever you want.
4. Tablets and Smartphones | Using the internet is easy.
Nearly a third of non-internet users say the internet is too difficult for them to use. As many as 8% of these people say they are too old to learn how to use it. If the last time you tried to use the internet was in the ‘90s, it’s easier now. Engineers have been perfecting user interface for more than thirty years now. Devices like tablets and smartphones are more intuitive than older computers.
5. Mobile broadband | There are options for rural dwellers – not as many as for urban dweller, but still. The three most viable options for rural, residential internet use are mobile broadband, satellite, and dial-up. Mobile broadband is great because it comes pre-installed on smartphones. Satellite is great because it works anywhere. Dial-up is great because it’s inexpensive (think around $10 per month). If you’re feeling ambivalent about the internet in general, dial-up is a great first option. Although it has passed the torch to faster connections in the last decade, over two million Americans still use AOL dial-up .