Living out in the country, you want the best of both worlds: you can enjoy a slower pace of life but are still able to access those technological aspects of modern life that are so convenient and helpful, like streaming your favorite shows on Netflix, using a digital camera to take amazing photos of the stars, or checking the weather on your smartphone before heading out to go fishing.
A study from Pew Research found that although rural America is less digitally-connected than nonrural areas, about two-thirds of rural Americans have broadband internet access from their home, and three quarters of rural survey respondents report that they use the internet daily. Smartphone ownership has risen from 21% to 71% among rural residents since 2011. These statistics tell us that despite infrastructure barriers, rural residents desire and seek out access to technology and all of its benefits.
Living in a rural area does not mean you stop worrying about security. Today, many rural residents take advantage of technological solutions for monitoring the safety and security of their property through motion sensors, video cameras, and similar devices. Many rural residents utilize smart speaker technologies like Alexa, Echo, or Google Home. Home connectivity programs allow you to make sure your front door and garage door are locked, check the thermostat, or receive alerts on your smartphone in case of a fire or security concern.
An often forgotten benefit of modern technology is the ability to choose green energy options like solar panels. On-site energy generation lets you efficiently power your home even if it’s far from the electric grid and can qualify you for valuable tax credits.
Schools in rural areas gain some of the biggest benefits from technology. Digital connectivity allows students in rural schools to connect with others around the globe and access resources outside their small communities. Developing the digital skills necessary to fully participate in today’s connected world empowers young people to build up their local communities with new ideas, businesses, and jobs.
Social media platforms, texting, and video calling apps can make the distance between friends disappear when one moves away, when a young adult is away pursuing higher education, or when a spouse is serving in the military. In addition, internet access can now allow employees to work for a company anywhere in the world as a remote employee. This allows folks in rural America to stay in their small communities and bring new money in…without leaving home.
When you are trying to make new friends—or maybe find a date—in a small town, options are somewhat limited. Social media and online platforms help maintain social ties to friends from other areas, or even finding Mr. or Ms. Right. While having a cup of coffee in a hometown café with a friend can be a great way to connect, so can a video chat with an old friend.
Rural towns can foster strong communities—hosting fundraisers for the local fire department, planning a fun parade for the 4thof July, or celebrating fall with a community festival. Rural life means getting to establish strong, long-lasting relationships with your neighbors and others in your community. Technology is making it easier than ever to live the country life.