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Resources for Getting Connected Online

Loneliness is bad for our health. Years ago, community members from across Oxford County told us that it was a major health concern here. Since then, we've seen more and more people naming loneliness as a health issue and working to address it. (For example, the United Kingdom's Campaign to End Loneliness and the AARP Foundation's Connect2Affect.)

The pandemic underscored how important it is for us to have the ability to connect online--to each other, education, healthcare, jobs, entertainment and more. While connecting online isn't a replacement for actually enjoying the company of other people in real life, it is an important tool to fighting loneliness and isolation. Sometimes it's the safest way to connect, allowing people with vulnerable health to socialize from a distance. Sometimes it's the most affordable and least complicated way to connect as well. It's way easier to have your family catch up with your sister's family in Presque Isle than piling one of those families into a vehicle and making a long trip, planning your route around bathroom breaks for the kids, etc.

So...loneliness = bad, connecting online = good. But what about the barriers that get in the way of connecting online? Internet and a device to use it can be expensive. Technology can be difficult to understand. Thankfully, there are places to turn for help.

The National Digital Equity Center (headquartered right here in little ol' Maine, up in Machias), offers free devices to low or moderate income Mainers who are willing to take free classes to help improve digital literacy (knowing how to use the devices and internet).You can find more info and contact them through this page on their website. You can access classes through them without signing up for a free device too.

For several years, our friends at Community Concepts Finance Corporation have been working to improve broadband internet and increase internet access across the county. They put together the helpful flyer below that lists options for affordable internet services and devices. They also recently shared this article that is packed with tons of info about the best internet deals for older adults.

Speaking of older adults, the SeniorsPlus Education Center offers monthly online classes and has a Cyber-Seniors Mentors program to help folks get used to using technology and to sign up for the many classes that they offer (on topics from Medicare to fraud/scam prevention to chair yoga and more).

Do you know of other helpful resources for connecting online? If so, drop us a line--we'd love to know about additional resources to share.

(Lead Photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels)


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